Shark alert! New captain, front row for Jaguares clash

Super Rugby

A new captain, a new front row and eight changes in total. That’s the axe that has been wielded by Sharks coach Robert du Preez following last week’s shocking 9-9 draw with the Melbourne Rebels.

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Philip van der Walt has taken over the Sharks captaincy from Tera Mtembu. Photo: Lukas Coch, EPAChiliboy Ralepelle will start in place of Franco Marais against the Jaguares. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePixThe experience that Michael Claassens will bring to the backline will help a youngster like Curwin Bosch. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePix

Du Preez is known as a disciplinarian, and he showed his colours by dropping captain Tera Mtembu to the bench for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires (9.40pm SA time kickoff).

“The idea has always been to give the other guys a chance, and last week I spoke to the guys who didn’t start and told them they would be getting an opportunity this week. It’s right to start them, and there is very little to choose between the guys on the bench and those who are starting,” Du Preez said.

“We need to give them a start, it’s good for their morale, for their well-being as part of the squad. It’s really important that we give those guys an opportunity. It’s going to require a massive performance from every single guy, from 1 to 23.”

Philip van der Walt takes over the leadership reins, and the No 6 jersey, from Mtembu, who appears to have taken the fall for the lacklustre display against the Rebels last weekend.

With André Esterhuizen banned for six weeks for a tip tackle, Jeremy Ward moves to inside centre and Lukhanyo Am is restored at No 13 after shifting to wing last week. That sees veteran Odwa Ndungane slot in at No 14, where he will equal JP Pietersen’s Sharks Super Rugby record with 137 caps.

The experience that Michael Claassens will bring to the backline will help a youngster like Curwin Bosch. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePix

Experienced scrumhalf Michael Claassens also gets an opportunity to bring direction to the backline, and perhaps be a guiding hand to young flyhalf Curwin Bosch.

It’s a much-changed loose trio as well. Apart from Van der Walt, Jean-Luc du Preez is back from injury at blindside flank, with twin brother Daniel at No 8.

Ruan Botha comes in at No 4 lock for Etienne Oosthuizen, while Thomas du Toit, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Lourens Adriaanse will anchor the scrum in place of the rested Tendai Mtawarira, Franco Marais and Coenie Oosthuizen.

The Jaguares narrowly lost 24-21 to the Lions at Ellis Park last Friday, and will be keen to get back on the winning track this week.

They have won all three matches in Buenos Aires this season, but are on a three-game losing streak – defeats to the Sharks, Bulls and Lions away from home.

So the Sharks are set for a tough afternoon at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium.

“They haven’t lost at home this year, it’s going to be a very physical encounter. We know that and we know how tough they are at home,” said coach Du Preez.

“But having said that, we’re going with a very positive mindset. We beat them there last year, and we want to go there to get the win.”

Sharks Team

15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.

Bench: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Johan Deysel.

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