Cape Town - The Cell C Sharks team named by Director of Rugby Jake White shows a number of changes from last week’s line-up, albeit not in any major disruptive way as the team prepare for Saturday’s Vodacom semi-final showdown with the Crusaders, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick
With Anton Bresler falling foul to a rib injury against the Highlanders in last week’s quarter-final win at Kings Park and not making the journey to New Zealand, Willem Alberts shifts from flank to the second row, with his place on the side of the scrum taken by Jean Deysel.
The backline sees positional shifts as Pat Lambie starts in his familiar flyhalf position which means Francois Steyn is moved to inside centre and Paul Jordaan wears the outside centre jersey occupied by JP Pietersen last week. He has been named on the wing with S’bura Sithole moving to the bench.
With Deysel having been elevated into the starting line-up, this opens a window of opportunity which has been filled by Tera Mtembu.
While the Cell C Sharks were hard at work last week, the Crusaders were relaxing thanks to an automatic bye but will be a well-settled unit hosting the semi. They’re the most successful side in the history of the tournament and are odds-on favourites to win this clash.
But there is nothing South Africans like more than to be fighting out of a corner and with the recent memory of an historic win in Christchurch during the pool stages of the competition, they will match the home side in the confidence stakes.
“The Crusaders are a phenomenal team, we’re under no illusions of how good they are and what they’ve achieved, but we just have to prepare as best we can to give ourselves a chance,” explains Jake White.
“They have players in their team who won the Rugby World Cup a few years ago, they have guys who are consistently in play-off games, the team hasn’t missed out on playoff rugby in a long time, and all these guys have been part and parcel of playoff games, so I have no doubt that with the team they have available and the experience they have, they’ll be a massive force.” Teams
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Johnny McNicholl
15. SP Marais, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Pat Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Tera Mtembu, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. S'bura Sithole, 23. Tonderai Chavhanga