Sharks coach John Plumtree has been able to name a settled side to take on the Reds on Friday, making just four changes to last week’s starting line-up, two of them enforced through injury.
Official Sharks Media Release
The experienced JC Janse van Rensburg, on loan from the Lions (he has played in 118 matches for them since 2006 and was a Springbok tour member to the UK at the end of last year), will start at loosehead prop, allowing Wiehahn Herbst to play in his favoured position at tighthead. He has been retained after two outstanding performances, allowing Jannie du Plessis a mini-break after starting almost every game so far and carrying a heavy workload for The Sharks.
With Lubabalo Mtembu nursing some bruising picked up against the Highlanders and unavailable for the match, captain Keegan Daniel shifts back to eighthman, opening a spot for Jean Deysel (pictured), to complete an all-Springbok loose-forward trio.
In the backline, the loss of Frans Steyn last week means JP Pietersen will start at outside centre, handing Piet Lindeque his second start in three matches.
Monde Hadebe gets the opportunity to make his debut at Super Rugby level, having been named on the bench for Craig Burden who has returned home.
After two outings for The Sharks XV to gain invaluable match fitness, Willem Alberts has returned to the side and has been named on the bench (which features a total of three Springboks).
For The Sharks, despite the losses, their focus remains purely on the challenge that lies ahead without any thought for the overall campaign which only concludes in three months’ time.
“We’re just going from week to week,” said coach John Plumtree. “We want to take the pressure off, play for each other and play for jersey; that’s important. We’re in a different set of circumstance with the team because of the fact that we have so many guys out, we just have to put our heads together.
“We’ve sent four to five guys home already and it’s only halfway through the tour. We’ve had to change personnel, we’ve had to play players out of position, it’s not great. But right now the focus is solely on getting a team prepared for the weekend.”
The Sharks: 1 JC Janse van Rensburg, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jean Deysel, 8 Keegan Daniel (Captain), 9 Charl McLeod, 10 Patrick Lambie, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 12 Meyer Bosman, 13 JP Pietersen, 14 Piet Lindeque, 15 Riaan Viljoen
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Odwa Ndungane.