Boks on bench as Am starts for the Sharks

Cape Argus - - Sport - MIKE GREEN­AWAY

THE Sharks are gear­ing up for what coach Robert du Preez de­scribes as a Cur­rie Cup “quar­ter-fi­nal” against West­ern Prov­ince at Kings Park to­mor­row (3pm), with all the at­ten­dant fo­cus that goes with a do-or-die match.

It is the last round of the Cur­rie Cup be­fore next week’s semi-fi­nals and with the Sharks hav­ing won 10 in a row to top the log, the wary Du Preez is tak­ing no chances as the com­pe­ti­tion winds up to crunch time. He wants 11 out of 11 be­fore the home semi-fi­nal next week.

“This game is really im­por­tant and we are giv­ing it play-off sta­tus,” Du Preez said “Of course we want to have mo­men­tum go­ing into the semis and you al­ways have to be care­ful when you are com­ing back from a break. Post-bye games of­ten pose a chal­lenge for teams,” he said.

“We have had a bit of dis­rup­tive week. The storm on Tues­day took care of train­ing but we had a fan­tas­tic ses­sion to­day (Thurs­day),” he added. “We will be ready come game time.”

The coach has made just one change to the side that beat the Li­ons two weeks ago in Dur­ban ahead of a bye, with Lukhanyo Am fi­nally over in­jury re­sum­ing at out­side cen­tre. Tris­tan Blewett drops to the bench.

“We are very pleased to have the guys back from the Boks, and we want to play them off the bench, which means the guys that did well against the Li­ons have an­other op­por­tu­nity to start and the re­turn­ing Boks will then be in­volved in the sec­ond half,” the coach said. “I have al­ways said it will re­quire a solid squad ef­fort if we are to have a chance of win­ning the com­pe­ti­tion, and I think we have achieved that.”

Du Preez said that with most of the squad hav­ing game time to­mor­row, he would be in a good po­si­tion to pick the best start­ing line-up for next week’s semi­fi­nal. It means a pow­er­ful bench that thus in­cludes Chili­boy Rale­pelle, Jean-Luc du Preez and Louis Schreuder, as well as wing Kobus van Wyk who, like Am, is over in­jury.

The re­turn of Rale­pelle and the start­ing berth for Franco Marais means there is no place for for­mer Li­ons hooker Akker van der Merwe in the squad.

Rory Klein­veldt

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