Sharks swap scrumhalves for Currie Cup final
The Sharks may have named an unchanged 23 for the Currie Cup final but the role reversal of their scrumhalves is likely to invite scrutiny.
Coach Sean Everitt has opted to start the match with Jaden Hendrikse in the No.9 jersey against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld‚ which sees Sanele Nohamba drop to the substitutes’ bench.
Hendrikse has certainly operated with verve and vigour this season and his credentials for a starting spot cannot be questioned. In fact‚ it may yet prove a masterstroke to have him start with Nohamba coming off the bench.
The importance of a calm‚ calculated scrumhalf is amplified in finals and it’s a point the Sharks’ brains trust will only be too aware of ahead of the big clash.
Back in 1990 their unflappable captain Craig Jamieson proved a huge calming influence in the cauldron of Loftus as the men from Durban famously lifted the trophy for the first time.
That Hendrikse will need to display a cool temperament and will be in for a searching examination is not in doubt. Moreover‚ the Bulls have sought to refine their qualities in that position over the last few weeks.
Blue Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl this week gushed about being mentored by Springbok great Fourie du Preez. There is no doubt that Du Preez would have imparted wisdom around how and when to apply pressure on the opposition. Van Zyl is a highly skilled tactical kicker but Du Preez is likely to have shared insights into how he used to read and then dictate the rhythm and pulse of a game.
Nohamba’s more individualistic skills are likely to find greater traction into the game and the Sharks will hope they would not have to pluck two rabbits out of the hat by the time the sprightly scrumhalf makes his way on.
Although the Sharks beat the Blue Bulls in their last clash in Durban they will start as underdogs‚ a tag which sits comfortably with No.8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
“We’re thrilled to have secured a place in the final but we accept that we have a massive assignment at Loftus on Saturday afternoon‚” said Notshe.
“But it’s an assignment we’re really excited about‚ especially as not a lot of players in our squad have been in finals‚ so this is a very special occasion.”
He does not want draw from the results of their most recent matches against the Bulls. They lost on their last two visits to Loftus.
“Not really‚ what happened in the past is in the past‚ although it is possible to learn from those games. What we took out of those games was that mistakes are punished. We made a lot of mistakes at Loftus we got punished for that.”
Sharks team to play the Blue Bulls - Aphelele Fassi; Sibusiso Nkosi‚ Lukhanyo Am (captain)‚ Marius Louw‚ Yaw Penxe; Curwin Bosch‚ Jaden Hendrikse; Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Henco Venter‚ Dylan Richardson; Ruben van Heerden‚ JJ van der Mescht; Thomas du Toit‚ Fezokuhle Mbatha‚ Ox Nche. Substitutes: Dan Jooste‚ Mzamo Majola‚ Michael Kumbirai‚ Hyron Andrews‚ Thembelani Bholi; Sanele Nohamba‚ Jeremy Ward‚ Manie Libbok.
Source: ARENA Holdings.