Am back for Sharks
Durban side not taking any chances as they make one change for clash against Province
THE Sharks may have confirmed a home semifinal in the Currie Cup a fortnight ago, and with some ease, but coach Robert du Preez nevertheless named a strong team yesterday to take on firedup Western Province at King’s Park in Durban tomorrow.
Since the result of this last match of the roundrobin section won’t affect the topplaced Durbanites in the standings, some may have expected Du Preez to rest a few of his players for the next round.
But, clearly, the coach and his men are looking to keep their winning momentum heading into the knockout phase, having achieved 10 consecutive victories.
Province, who are placed second on the log table, are still looking to secure the second home semifinal and a de feat could give possibilities to teams lying behind them on the log.
From the Sharks team that defeated the Golden Lions a fortnight ago, Du Preez only made one change, with centre Lukhanyo Am coming back from injury.
And, having had their training schedule disrupted by the storm on Tuesday as water flooded parts of their stadium, it was also imperative for the coach not to tamper too much with the team.
“This game is really important and we are approaching it like a quarterfinal,” said Du Preez yesterday.
“It’s always a challenge coming from a bye and we were a bit disrupted this week with the storm we had on Tuesday, but we had a fantastic practice yesterday and I am happy with the preparations. And we will be ready on Saturday [tomorrow].”
Tristan Blewett, who wore the number 13 jersey against the Lions, goes to the bench to make way for the talented Am, while two players who recently came back from Springbok duty — Chilliboy Ralepele and JeanLuc du Preez — start on the bench for tomorrow’s tie.
“We are very pleased with the guys that came back from the Boks, but I have always said that it’s going to be a squad effort and I think we have achieved that,” the coach explained.
“Except for Lukhanyo, who is starting after a knee niggle and an ankle injury, we have kept the same side that played the last time against the Lions.
“We will try playing the Boks, the guys that came back, from the bench. I wanted to give the guys that have played well another an opportunity and then we will select our side for the semifinal.”
While the Sharks’ Boks are starting on the bench, Province coach John Dobson has selected Dillyn Leyds and Wilco Louw to start tomorrow’s game, showing how serious they are about getting a result from the trip to Durban.
The two men also recently returned from Bok duty and they will strengthen the backline and front row respectively.
Province are only a point ahead of the Cheetahs and two above the Lions with just one game remaining, so final log positions could well look different after the weekend’s action.
Tomorrow’s match in Durban will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 from 2.45 pm.
SHARKS: 15. Garth April, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Marius Louw, 11. S’busiso Nkosi, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Dan du Preez, 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Ruan Botha (captain), 4. Tyler Paul, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Thomas du Toit. Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Jean Droste, 19. JeanLuc du Preez, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Tristan Blewett, 22. Kobus van Wyk.
WESTERN PROVINCE: 15. Damian Willemse, 14. Seabelo Senatla, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Ruhan Nel, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Cobus Wiese, 6. Jaco Coetzee, 5. JD Schickerling, 4. Chris van Zyl (captain), 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Ramone Samuels, 17. Caylib Oosthuizen, 18. Jan de Klerk, 19. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20. Justin Phillips, 21. Werner Kok, 22. EW Viljoen.
Bulls v Pumas — 7 pm Tomorrow Sharks v WP — 3 pm Lions v Cheetahs — 5.15 pm