Johannesburg - Sharks coach Robert du Preez is in the fortunate position of being able to resume after the June break for international rugby with a full complement of Springboks to call on for the remaining three fixtures that will define the Durban franchise’s Super Rugby season.
Prop Coenie Oosthuizen is still out but he has been out injured since the start of the year, otherwise all the Boks on the Sharks books have been included in the team for Saturday’s big derby against the Emirates Lions at Jonnsons King’s Park, according to SuperSport.com.
More than that, the experience boasted by his match day squad has been boosted considerably since the Sharks last played, which was the loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires in the last week of May.
What was a smattering of Boks has now been turned into a team dominated by players with international experience thanks to national coach Rassie Erasmus’ decision to test his playing depth in his first year in charge.
Flying wing Sbu Nkosi, centres Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen, the other wing Makazole Mapimpi, flyhallf Robert du Preez, prop Thomas du Toit and hooker Akker van der Merwe has all become capped Boks since they last wore Sharks clothing.
And reserve hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has also boosted his tally of caps by playing against Wales and in the final test against England.
In all there are now 13 Boks in the Sharks’ match day 23, and 11 in the starting team.
The players who played under Erasmus in June have all spoken highly of the impact his tactical acumen and professional approach to the game has had on them, and as Nkosi said in an interview on Wednesday, they will be keen to show how the Erasmus effect has rubbed off on them.
There are two changes to the Sharks team that started against the Jaguares - Lwazi Mvovo played left wing that night and has been replaced by Mapimpi, while the Louis Schreuder and Cameron Wright rotation policy at scrumhalf continues, with Wright getting his chance this time and his kicking game might be heavily relied upon for the Sharks to get a tactical edge.
A player who might consider himself to be have been helped by the timing of the June international window is Sharks skipper Ryan Botha, who continues as captain even though he was suspended for a glaring act of foul play against the Jaguares.
Fortunately for Botha, his suspension coincided with the break, when he wasn’t set to play anyway.
Needless to say coach Du Preez should be giving his team a stern talking to about their discipline before they face the Sharks for that was what cost them against the Jaguares and there have been other instances earlier in the season, such as the final minutes against the Hurricanes, where disciplinary infractions cost them log points.
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Phillip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19, Lourens Erasmus, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Marnus Schoeman, 22 Nic Groom, 23 Courtnall Skosan