Stormers could steal Sharks' play-off thunder in Cape Town
Sharks captain Ruan Botha has a fair idea of how desperate the Stormers are and knows they are capable of wrecking their Super Rugby play-off hopes when they meet at Newlands on Saturday.
The Sharks are hovering close to one of the wildcard spots and while they'll need the Reds to do a number on the Rebels‚ they still need to win in Cape Town to ensure they have their play-off fate in their own hands.
With the Reds and the Rebels meeting on Friday morning‚ the Sharks will have the best part of the day and the whole of Saturday to ponder their future.
Botha is under no illusions as to what they will expect in Cape Town but hoped they will display the same resolve that saw them overturn a half-time deficit to beat the Lions.
“Coming from a loss in Argentina‚ the Stormers will be a difficult team to beat‚” said Botha.
“When there's nothing on the line‚ that quality makes them a dangerous team because they will go out and freely express themselves. The Stormers are going to be a dangerous side this weekend. We'll be looking forward to what they'll be bringing and the set-piece battle is going to be a huge challenge‚” Botha said.
“Each individual in the team knows what's at stake while playing each game. We know each game is a must win and as individuals‚ we can't complete those objectives. The big focus is playing for the team and working as a team. That's something we got right on the weekend.”
Sharks coach Robert du Preez made four changes to the side that fought back gamely to beat the Lions on the weekend with Lwazi Mvovo‚ Louis Schreuder and Juan Schoeman coming in for Makazole Mapimpi‚ Cameron Wright and Tendai Mtawarira.
The big injury enforced change is that of Jean-Luc du Preez‚ who is replaced by Jacques Vermeulen at flank.
Du Preez said the loss of Jean-Luc was a big one but felt they have built enough depth to ensure his absence will not be felt.
“Anyone of our guys who have played in the last couple of games or who have been involved in the match-day 23‚ it'll always be a big loss if we lose one of them. We have such an able replacement in Jacques Vermeulen. When he came on‚ he did very well on Saturday. Hopefully Jean-luc won't be kept out too long by his injury but Jacques is a great replacement‚” Du Preez said.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 S’bu Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 André Esterhuizen‚ 11 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 10 Robert du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder‚ 8 Daniel du Preez‚ 7 Jacques Vermeulen 6 Phillip van der Walt‚ 5 Ruan Botha (c)‚ 4 Tyler Paul‚ 3 Thomas du Toit‚ 2 Akker van der Merwe‚ 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle‚ 17 Beast Mtawarira‚ 18 John-Hubert Meyer‚ 19 Hyron Andrews‚ 20 Wian Vosloo‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Marius Louw‚ 23 Kobus van Wyk.