Durban – Captain Keegan Daniel admits the Sharks could not resist the temptation of a fit-again Frans Steyn after it was revealed that the Springbok back will start this week's Currie Cup semi-final against the Cheetahs in Durban.
The announcement that Steyn will be promoted straight into the starting XV was a major surprise at Tuesday's press conference with the player returning after five months on the sidelines with a leg injury.
“Frans is a world-class player and has done well in various competitions around the world,” Daniel said.
“He brings experience and some X-factor, he’s a big guy and someone who will help us get over the advantage line.
“When you have someone of Frans’s ability, who is ready and raring to go, you have to make use of that opportunity.”
Steyn last featured in competitive action in early May against the Highlanders in the Super Rugby competition, before having surgery to repair his knee.
He was forced to miss the entire home international season, as well as the Rugby Championship for the Springboks.
Coach Brad Macleod-Henderson confirmed earlier that the 26-year-old World Cup winner will slot into midfield for Heimar Williams.
“He's a player of exceptional quality and it's easy to bring a player like him straight into the starting line-up,” Macleod-Henderson said.
“He's raring to go and has been looking good in training.”
It was also confirmed that Patrick Lambie will start at flyhalf after playing off the bench in the final regular-season match against Western Province at the weekend, a clash the Sharks lost 17-13 to end second on the log.
However, flank Willem Alberts has again been ruled out due to a neck injury he suffered against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship, while front-rower Jannie du Plessis will also miss out due to an injured hand.
Daniel admitted the Sharks were still licking their wounds after the weekend's result Ä one that meant they will not host the final should they beat the Cheetahs.
“We ticked some boxes that we wanted to at the weekend, but when you play in those conditions, the bounce of the ball or just or one or two small things can cost you the result,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we can’t control the past, but we can put things right this weekend.
“We took positives out of the game, I thought we got on top in the collisions and that was one area where we struggled against them in Cape Town, but we were much better in that department last Saturday.”
Looking ahead to the meeting with the Cheetahs, who they beat home and away during the regular season, Daniel said the team would be motivated by past results against the Free State outfit:
“We’ve managed to get the better of the Cheetahs in recent years, and so while maybe a few years ago you could have referred to them as our bogey team, I don’t think that is the case anymore.
“It’s now all about finals rugby, handling the pressure, capitalising on opportunities, and playing in the right areas of the field.” – Sapa