Sharks reshuffle for tough trip to Kimberley for Griquas clash
The Sharks will be up against it to continue their impressive Currie Cup winning streak against Griquas in Kimberley on Friday after being forced into making changes for the match.
After winning seven straight matches‚ the Durban-based side are almost secure of a semifinal berth‚ needing just seven log points from their remaining four games to guarantee at least fourth place in the standings.
But their ambitions are much greater than just scraping into the last four – and rightly so – after a seven-match winning streak.
“We are proud of the fact that we’re undefeated in seven matches‚” coach Robert du Preez said.
“Despite this achievement‚ there is still so much more that this team is capable of doing. We are entering the business end of this competition and it’s time for us to take our performances up another gear.
“The hunger and passion among this group of players is evident and the players need to translate that into a complete performance.”
Star centre Lukhanyo Am and impressive flank Jacques Vermeulen will miss the match through injury. Marius Louw replaces Am while Tyler Paul will move from lock to flank with Jean Droste coming in to the second row.
Veteran Bok Odwa Ndungane is preferred at wing to Tythan Adams and there are rotational switches to the front row with prop Juan Schoeman and hooker Franco Marais starting as Thomas du Toit and Akker van der Merwe drop to the bench.
Griquas are always tough opponents and that clash is followed by a date with the improving Blue Bulls. But if all goes well in the next fortnight the Sharks could be safely into the playoffs with two rounds to spare.
“We chatted about how tough this fortnight of matches was going to be‚ especially since we were up against two teams who play an abrasive style of rugby‚” Du Preez said.
“Our players showed a lot of character to grind out a win against the Pumas (winning 27-25 in Nelspruit last week) and the positive contribution from our bench has to be applauded.
“The Griquas will follow a similar approach and are always difficult at home. Discipline is going to be important.”
Western Province No 8 Nizaam Carr will earn his 50th cap for the union when he runs out against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night.
Up-front there are two new props with JC Janse van Rensburg at loosehead and Michael Kumbirai coming into the starting lineup at tighthead‚ in the absence of Wilco Louw‚ who has been called up to the Springbok squad in New Zealand.
Ali Vermaak and Caylib Oosthuizen provide front row cover‚ with looseforward Sikhumbuzo Notshe alongside them to provide impact off the replacements bench.
The only change to the backline which did duty in the 57-14 victory against the Free State Cheetahs at Newlands last weekend sees a fit-again Seabelo Senatla on the right wing‚ with his Springbok Sevens teammate Werner Kok dropping to the bench.
15 AJ Coertzen (captain)‚ 14 Ederies Arendse‚ 13 Kyle Steyn‚ 12 Johnathan Francke‚ 11 Enver Brandt‚ 10 George Whitehead‚ 9 Renier Botha‚ 8 De Wet Kruger‚ 7 Sias Koen‚ 6 Wendal Wehr‚ 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren‚ 4 Jonathan Adendorf‚ 3 Stephan Kotze‚ 2 AJ le Roux‚ 1 Nicolaas Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi‚ 17 Liam Hendricks‚ 18 Sintu Manjezi‚ 19 Shaun McDonald‚ 20 Tiaan Dorfling‚ 21 Andre Swarts‚ 22 Eric Zana
15 Garth April‚ 14 Odwa Ndungane‚ 13 Jeremy Ward‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Sibusiso Nkosi‚ 10 Curwin Bosch‚ 9 Louis Schreuder‚ 8 Tera Mtembu‚ 7 Tyler Paul‚ 6 Keegan Daniel‚ 5 Ruan Botha (captain)‚ 4 Jean Droste‚ 3 Ross Geldenhuys‚ 2 Franco Marais‚ 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe‚ 17 Thomas du Toit‚ 18 Hyron Andrews‚ 19 Wian Vosloo‚ 20 Michael Claassens‚ 21 Tristan Blewett‚ 22 Inny Radebe