Durban - The Cell C Sharks can count on three Springboks who return to the side to take on the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday evening in what is shaping up to be a massive South African conference derby.
JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have returned from Japan and no time has been wasted introducing them to the starting line-up, while Willem Alberts has been given the all-clear to play after spending time rehabbing an injury, Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick reports.
Pietersen and Steyn have also proven themselves at training and they form a new centre partnership.
Ryan Kankowski will join the elite group of Super Rugby centurions when he plays in his 100th game for the Sharks, in a loose-forward bolstered by the return of Alberts, especially in light of the kind of talent that lurks at the back of the Stormers scrum in the shape of SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen.
“We are in a fortunate position that we have experienced Springbok players that have either recovered from injury or have returned from Japan,” explains Director of Rugby Gary Gold.
“We are excited to have them back and involved in our match-day squad. We also have commitments to SA Rugby to rest selected players.
“The Stormers are the in-form team in South Africa at present and we are playing them in front of their passionate home crowd. We are under no illusions about how tough the challenge is going to be. This is probably going to be a tougher battle than last week. Our squad has had a good training week and are determined to get our campaign back on a winning track.”
Tera Mtembu (acute flare up of chronic knee - 1 week), Jean Deysel (minor procedure to ankle -4/6 weeks), Stephan Lewies (minor procedure on knee - 6/8 weeks) and Etienne Oosthuizen (knee injury - 3/4weeks) could not be considered for selection.
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Newlands is scheduled for 19:10.
15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3. Matt Stevens, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Marco Wentzel, 20. Renaldo Bothma, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Andre Esterhuizen, 23. Jack Wilson