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Super Rugby Preview: The Sharks

A harrowing year in 2015 with injuries, a lack of performance and the loss of some name players puts the pressure on the Sharks to live up to their potential in 2016.

Home: Durban
Last season: 11th
Best finish: 2nd (2001), (2007), (2012)

Squad (as of 10 February)

Lourens Adriaanse, Dale Chadwick, Thomas du Toit, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kyle Cooper, Monde Hadebe, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Franco Marais, Ruan Botha, Stephan Lewies, David McDuling, Giant Mtyanda, Etienne Oosthuizen, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Dan du Preez, Khaya Majola, Tera Mtembu, Jacques Potgieter, Philip van der Walt, Renaldo Bothma

Michael Claassens, Conrad Hoffman, Cobus Reinach, Stefan Ungerer, Patrick Lambie, Andre Esterhuizen, Paul Jordaan, Heimar Williams, Wandile Mjekevu, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane
S'bura Sithole, Willie le Roux, Joe Pietersen

Game Breaker
Returning from the Waratahs where he enjoyed Super Rugby winning success in 2014 and reached the semi-finals in 2015, Jacques Potgieter will be a significant force in a pack which will be without the formidable du Plessis brothers this year. He will offer an edge of steel and a high nuisance factor, assets which were well used by the Australians.

Key signing
Fullback and wing utility Willie le Roux, 26, offers an attacking edge to complement both the match plan of coach Gary Gold but also the natural qualities of the Sharks squad. Having played 58 games for the Cheetahs and 34 Tests for South Africa, he is regarded as one of the most dangerous players on the world scene and if he can spark the Sharks they will be one of the hottest teams in the competition this year.

Returning veteran

Loose forward Keegan Daniel, 30, has returned to the Sharks after two years in Japan. With 104 Super Rugby appearances behind him for the side, and five Test matches for South Africa, his return is timely as the Sharks look to regain some momentum in 2016 under a new coaching structure. He also offers leadership having captained the side in 2012.

The scoop

If the Sharks don't have an impact in this year's competition it won't be for lack of trying. They have recruited well, have opted for an attacking approach under the new coaching regime of Gary Gold and they have appointed Patrick Lambie as captain. The latter has been one of the under utilised players in South Africa and if able to get some continuity in play he is well capable of seeing his side to the play-offs this year.