Gold expecting tough battle
Cape Town - The Sharks may have seen their Super Rugby play-off ambitions go up in smoke, but they can take a large step towards salvaging some pride with victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
The Durban franchise yesterday named their starting XV for the 09:35 kick-off that will see them field a new-look half back pairing in Stefan Ungerer and Lionel Cronje, while Frans Steyn (centre), Renaldo Bothma (No 8) and Jannie du Plessis (prop) also return.
The Sharks have won just four of their 11 fixtures in the competition so far and must still face the Waratahs and the Reds on their Australasian tour.
Gold is fully aware of the difficulties awaiting his side.
Hurricanes are a team on an absolute high at the moment, their performance
against the Crusaders was outstanding and this is probably going to be a big
challenge for many of our players at this moment in time, with backs against
the wall," he said.
"We're playing the best team in the competition; it's going to be an
unbelievable challenge, but one that's going to make us grow as a group.
"From our point of view, we need to concentrate on the things we can do
well, we know we have the ability to do well, even though we haven't done it
very often. But we're a proud bunch of guys and this is an opportunity against
the odds to step up to the plate."
The Hurricanes currently top the New Zealand conference and the combined log, having lost just once in 10 matches this season.
Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma'a
Nonu, 11 Matt Proctor, 10 James Marshall, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Victor Vito,
7 Ardie Savea, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3
Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Chris Eves
16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Reggie Goodes, 19
Callum Gibbins, 20 Brad Shields, 21 Frae Wilson, 22 Otere Black, 23 Rey
15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14.
Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. S'bura Sithole,
10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Stefan Ungerer, 8. Renaldo Bothma, 7. Etienne
Oosthuizen, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Stephan
Lewies, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18.
Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Mouritz Botha, 20. Kyle Cooper, 21. Conrad
Hoffmann, 22. Andre Esterhuizen, 23. Waylon Murray