Sharks lock Johann Muller is to captain the side again this season, having guided the team during the 2008 Super 14 as well as to Currie Cup glory.
South Africa captain John Smit, who was away in France for the duration of the last Super 14 season, now gets a chance to concentrate on his own game before leading the Springboks in the important series against the British and Irish Lions.
With hooker Bismarck du Plessis and prop Jannie du Plessis waiting in the wings, Smit - who can cover both positions - seems unlikely to play a full 80 minutes week in and week out.
The move to appoint Muller thus makes sense for continuity purposes as the Springbok skipper will find himself shifting between positions and coming off the bench throughout the tournament.
"It was not an easy decision. I have huge respect for both of them. They are outstanding leaders," Sharks coach John Plumtree told The Mercury newspaper.
"The way to look at it is that John and Johann are close mates, and to an extent will lead together anyway.
"And it also gives John some freedom to concentrate on leading the Springboks in a very big year for them."