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The boys from the high veldt will be as hard as ever. After losing nearly an entire team after the 2011 World Cup, they managed to blood many young players, and look to them to show their class this year. Lock Paul Willemse is an exciting prospect but one feels that if they are to be the dominant team of a few years ago, captain Pierre Spies needs to deliver on his potential. Have a look at them serenading their fans on You Tube. Let's hope their playing will be better than their singing. We know how they'll play, but if they do it effectively it doesn't matter that you know. They'll be hard to beat.
After two seasons of promising performances from a very young team, the Cheetahs find themselves with players who now have a few seasons under the belt. Inspirational and down-to-earth captain Adriaan Strauss, buoyed by some proper game time for the Springboks, should look to advance their standing in their conference. Look out for Johan Goosen, one of South Africa's most talented first fives in a generation.
Much has been said and heard about the politically-supported Kings. Thrust on to the Super stage, they now have to swim with the big fish. Controversial, yet very able, captain Luke Watson will be a player to watch. Leonardi and Vergallo will add some Argentinian flair. Kiwis should be interested to see how Hadleigh Parkes goes in the team coached by Matt Sexton. South Africa has a deep respect and hope in New Zealand coaches; one feels they might need a bit more than hope to win a few. Look to them to offer up a surprise result or two, but no more.
The Sharks will be very strong this season. The addition of veterans Butch James, Francois Steyn and Franco van der Merwe bolsters their depth and experience. John Plumtree has had enough time to firmly set his stamp on this team. Pieter-Steph du Toit is an exciting young lock-flanker to keep an eye on, as well as Cobus Reinach at halfback.
''The Bismarck'' will be eager to prove his steel after an injury lay-off.
My early-season pick for the best South African team. Won the domestic Currie Cup as Western Province and have the best defensive record over the past two seasons. The addition of talented young Elton Jantjies from the culled Lions should add some zip to their attack. Schalk Burger is back in shape and seems eager to show his worth once again. Look out for another young Lions recruit, Jaco Taute, to pair with Jean De Villiers in a formidable midfield combination.