DURBAN - The Sharks look set to make some invigorating changes to their team for a must-win visit to Kimberley on Saturday where gritty Griquas stand between them and a home Currie Cup semi-final.
One of those changes will see Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi at last in action after he recovered from an ankle injury some time ago but after a short comeback cameo for the Sharks he was whisked off to the Boks, only to hold tackle bags.
Also exciting is the likely move of Curwin Bosch from fullback to flyhalf, with Robert du Preez moving to inside centre at the expense of Marius Louw, and lively youngster Aphelele Fassi starting at fullback. One of Lwazi Mvovo or Kobus van Wyk will complete the backline puzzle on the left wing. That is how the backline has been running at training, and it is fizzing with vim and vigour.
In the forwards, Bok Jean-Luc du Preez will make his comeback on the flank after being out for three months recovering from groin surgery. Nkosi is the only one of the Sharks’ Bok representatives available to coach Robert du Preez.
Centre Andre Esterhuizen is back with his Japanese club Munakata Sanix Blues; wing Makazole Mapimpi and centre Lukhanyo Am are still out injured; while Tendai Mtawarira hurt his neck in the weekend’s match against the All Blacks, but he is a Bok contracted player in any case.
Also injured is former Blue Bulls lock Ruben van Heerden, and the Sharks would do well to look no further for a replacement than a star of the unbeaten Sharks Under-19 side, JJ van der Mescht, the 130kg man mountain from Glenwood High.
After losing to Western Province two weeks ago, this final-round fixture for the Sharks has to be won to ensure they host a semi. Assistant coach Dick Muir says the players are not down-heartened after copping 50 points at Newlands in their last outing.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by C u r w i n B o s c h (@curwin_bosch) on
“The score was not an accurate reflection of that game,” Muir said. “We had a terrible start, but then were right back in it. It was disappointing that after having fought back into contention, we then lost two lineouts in the opposition 22, which could have taken us ahead.
“So it was a lot tighter than the scoreline suggests. And there was lot of character shown by the guys to fight back so bravely. It was the same type of game as the Pumas versus the Wallabies at the weekend ... the Aussies were 31 points down before coming back in the second half to win. We fell just short of doing the same.”
Muir warned that the inevitable inhospitality of the diamond fielders would make it tough for the Sharks, as is always the case. “Griquas love getting themselves up for the Sharks ... It would make their season if they could knock us over, so we are expecting a mammoth effort from them. They are dangerous, but with the players we have we should win,” he said.