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    Another golden opportunity for April

    2016-07-01 11:25

    Cape Town - When Pat Lambie was stretchered off 22 minutes into the opening Test between the Springboks and Ireland in Cape Town on June 11, Sharks coach Gary Gold must have feared the worst. 

    Those fears have since been confirmed, and Lambie's concussion continues to keep him out of action. 

    It means that the Sharks travel to Johannesburg on Saturday without their captain and playmaker. 

    To make matters worse, Gold is also without fullback Willie le Roux, who is suspended this week but is carrying a shoulder injury anyway. 

    As a result, 35-year-old Odwa Ndungane will start at fullback. 

    At flyhalf, Garth April gets another crack. 

    "Obviously it is a blow because they’re world class players but we’ve spent most of this season without Pat," Gold said of going into the match without his Springbok duo.

    "It’s an adaption that I think we’ll probably be able to deal with, but it’s something we would much prefer not to have to go through."

    Gold said he was extremely happy to see April being called up to Allister Coetzee's Springbok squad for the Ireland series even though he did not get a cap. 

    April's Super Rugby form this year - he has played 8 games this season - was enough to convince Coetzee of his potential, and as a result Gold has a belief in the 24-year-old.

    "It’s fine … it’s absolutely not going to be used as an excuse in any way, shape or form," he said.

    "It’s an exciting opportunity for the likes of a Garth to step up into Patrick’s place, which he did in New Zealand.

    "It’s a big stage for a young guy to be cutting his teeth but it’s something we’re excited about."

    Sharks scrumhalf Michael Claassens says he has been impressed by April this season.

    "For Garth, this weekend is massive," said Claasens.

    "He plays against Elton (Jantjies), who is the number one flyhalf in the country at the moment.

    "He (April) has grown in confidence … the way he kicks, the way he runs the game and the way he talks has definitely improved since the start of the season."

    Teams:

    Lions

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith

    Substitutes: 16 Armand Van Der Merwe,17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen,19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

    Sharks

    15. Odwa Ndungane, 14 JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain)

    Substitutes: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Ruan Botha, 20. Tera Mtembu, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Rhyno Smith, 23. S'bura Sithole

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    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
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