Key duo back to boost Sharks
Durban - Director of Rugby Jake White has been forced to make changes to the Cell C Sharks backline, but welcomes back two players from injury for Friday night’s Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders, reports Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
This is their final home game ahead of their four match tour to Australia and New Zealand and along with the desire to maintain their 100% success record at home is hopping on the plane on Saturday in a positive frame of mind, something victory on Friday night would ensure.
The loss of Tonderai Chavhanga to a hamstring tweak against the Cheetahs and Odwa Ndungane’s absence for another week following a blow to the shoulder has necessitated a reshuffling of the backline.
S’bura Sithole moves to wing and Paul Jordaan - who was sidelined with a knee injury - makes a return to his position at outside centre. The good news is that JP Pietersen has recovered after missing out last week after pulling up in training and he will play on the other wing.
The rest of the side remains unchanged, with Tim Swiel getting another go at flyhalf after making his first start last week in the victorious clash against the Cheetahs.
The Highlanders arrive in Durban fresh off a bye and time will tell whether they benefit from the break or find that it disrupts them.
“There are two ways of looking at it: one, you’re rusty because you didn’t play the week before, or two, you’ve had two weeks to prepare yourself and freshen up mentally,” said White. “I don’t think you can ever work out in theory if you have a rest you’re better, or you lose your momentum. The challenge for us is to focus on getting a result. We go away the next day, it’s our last home game for a long while and we have to keep the momentum going.”
The Highlanders finished last year second from bottom on the log with just three wins to their name. In 2014, they have one extra win and they still have nine games to play. They’re currently in eighth spot on the log and well-placed to contest for a top six finish.
“There is no doubt that this year they are way better than they were last year,” said White.
“You can’t read anything into what happened last year. They’re a good side, they have some good players, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith are probably the two form players in New Zealand, and have been for the last couple of seasons, not just this year. Everything starts and revolves around those two guys.”
The match also represents an important milestone for Keegan Daniel who makes his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the Sharks.
Friday’s clash at Kings Park kicks off at 19:10.Teams:Sharks:
15. Lwazi Mvovo , 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Tim Swiel, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Ryan Kankowski, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. SP Marais Highlanders: