Cape Town - Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold says it “made sense” to make a few changes to his starting team for Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Gold on Wednesday made five changes to his run-on XV from the one which beat the Stormers 18-13 in Cape Town last weekend.
Philip van der Walt replaces Jean-Luc du Preez in the No 7 jersey, with the latter ruled out for a week with a foot injury.
Kyle Cooper starts at hooker in place of Franco Marais and Lourens Adriaanse comes in at tighthead prop, with Coenie Oosthuizen starting off the bench.
In the backline, Michael Claassens starts at scrumhalf in place of Cobus Reinach, while Lwazi Mvovo is back in the starting team, with Odwa Ndungane moving down to the bench.
“We want to improve each week and keep on building as a team,” said Gold. “We are really keen to keep the momentum going now and, as a result, our confidence will keep growing. It’s the reason we’ve rotated a few guys this week.
“We have a huge amount of confidence in the guys that have come off the bench and they have made a significant difference to our games at critical stages. There were a few sore bodies after the Stormers match, so it made sense to make a few changes. These changes are not disruptive, but it does mean that other guys that have put their hands up have an opportunity to start this week, rather than come off the bench.”
Gold expects loose forward Du Preez to only be sidelined for this weekend’s action.
“Jean-Luc has a minor foot injury, which creates an opportunity for Keegan Daniel to be included on the bench, having recently returned to Durban.”
The Sharks mentor is fully aware about what awaits his charges at Loftus Versfeld.
“Another very tough challenge awaits our new generation Sharks team this Friday, made trickier by the fact that it’s a short turnaround before the match. Our preparation needs to be very precise this week, in terms of what we do. We are comfortable with the plans we have put in place.
“The Bulls were fantastic against the Rebels and were particularly impressive in many areas. This is a big SA derby and we under no illusions about the physicality they are going to bring,” said Gold.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Philip van der Walt, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain)
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Keegan Daniel, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Garth April, 23. Odwa Ndungane