Sharks under pressure to deliver silverware after five-year wait
The Sharks choked in last year's Currie Cup and the pressure will be on them ahead of Saturday's home semifinal against the Golden Lions.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez understands the need to be consistent in group stage rugby while also finding an extra gear in the play-offs.
That's what the Sharks struggled with last season when they beat the Blue Bulls in the semifinals before losing to Western Province in the show-piece game.
The Sharks also haven't won the tournament in five years but with the understanding that one has to get to final first‚ Du Preez said the pressure to deliver silverware will always be there.
“There's always pressure and it's going to be the team that handles the pressure best that ultimately does well‚" he said.
"There's also the using of opportunities‚ which is really important but it also shows that whatever that you've done during the season doesn't count for much when it comes to final time.”
Du Preez will be persisting with Louis Schreuder as captain from scrumhalf while Curwin Bosch moves back to fullback.
Robert du Preez slots back at flyhalf with Marius Louw returning at inside centre.
Thomas du Toit and Daniel du Preez also returning to their respective tighthead prop and number eight positions respectively.
Schreuder said they won't be underestimating the Golden Lions and Ivan “Cash” van Rooyen's side can't be written off despite their inconsistent season.
“We've played the Lions four times already this season so we know what the Lions can do.
"However‚ we also have our own plans in mind and we'll have to keep doing what we're doing.
"I don't think we'll take a lot from the past because this is a new game and they may have their new plans‚” Schreuder said.
“I don't think they're written off at all and the Lions remain a dangerous team.
"They've played in more finals (Super Rugby) than any other franchise in the last few years so they know how to get there.”
15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 S’bu Nkosi‚ 13 Jeremy Ward‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 10 Robert du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder (c)‚ 8 Daniel du Preez‚ 7 Tyler Paul‚ 6 Jacques Vermeulen‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 Gideon Koegelenberg‚ 3 Thomas du Toit‚ 2 Akker van der Merwe‚ 1 Juan Schoeman.
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle‚ 17 Mzamo Majola‚ 18 Coenie Oosthuizen‚ 19 Luke Stringer‚ 20 Jean-Luc du Preez‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Leolin Zas‚ 23 Aphelele Fassi.
15 Sylvian Mahuza‚ 14 Courtnall Skosan‚ 13 Lionel Mapoe‚ 12 Howard Mnisi‚ 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ 10 Elton Jantjies‚ 9 Nic Groom (c)‚ 8 Warren Whiteley‚ 7 Pikkie de Villiers‚ 6 James Venter‚ 5 Marvin Orie‚ 4 Rhyno Herbst‚ 3 Jacobie Adriaanse‚ 2 Pieter Jansen‚ 1 Sti Sithole.
16 Tiaan van der Merwe‚ 17 Danie Mienie‚ 18 Chergin Fillies‚ 19 Vincent Tshituka‚ 20 Hacjivah Dayimani‚ 21 Dillon Smit‚ 22 Shaun Reynolds‚ 23 Wandisile Simelane.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs‚ Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Christie du Preez