Durban – Five of the Sharks' returning Springboks have slotted straight back into the starting XV for the final Currie Cup regular fixture against log leaders Western Province in Durban on Saturday.
They include an all-Bok front row of Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira as well as lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and flanker Marcell Coetzee, who played off the bench last week when he was released from national duty.
Patrick Lambie had to be content with a place among the substitutes, while Willem Alberts was already ruled out with a neck injury suffered last Saturday while on national duty playing against New Zealand.
“We feel that Jannie, Bismarck and Beast (Mtawarira) will add a bit of beef upfront for us,” backline coach Sean Everitt said.
“Pieter-Steph comes in as well. He’s done really well when he’s played for us and hasn’t had much rugby, so it will be good for him to play.
“Willem went for a scan on his neck and we will know the extent later in the week.”
Everitt said Lambie would play off the bench to give him an opportunity to learn the calls as the team was “very flyhalf-orientated”.
“But he will definitely start in the semi-final. We hadn’t considered Pat at fullback because SP Marias has done really well for us Ä he has a good left boot which offers us another option and he has been attacking well so we’re not going to tamper with that.
“At the same time, Pat’s also in contention for the Springbok number 10 jersey at the end of the year so selecting him at fullback would be an injustice to him.”
The Sharks also made a rotational change as Charl McLeod came in at scrumhalf for Cobus Reinach.
Prop Wiehahn Herbst would win his 50th cap if he came off the bench, while Jacques Botes would become the most capped Currie Cup player of all time if he took to the field.
The veteran loose forward was in line to win his 143rd cap, surpassing the record of former Free State Cheetahs winger Helgard Muller, which he equalled last week.
The Sharks were currently second on the log with the winner of the Kings Park contest assuring themselves a potential home final on October 26 if they win their semi-final Ä to be played at home next weekend.
The Sharks team is: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, Tim Whitehead, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo, Fred Zeilinga, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (captain), Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Peet Marais, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Stephan Lewies, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Patrick Lambie, Louis Ludik. – Sapa