DURBAN – The Sharks will be targeting their seventh consecutive Currie Cup victory when they travel to Nelspruit on Friday evening to take on the Pumas at Mbombela.
Coach Robert du Preez has mostly stuck with the players who put on nearly 50 points against the Free State Cheetahs last weekend, opting for continuity as far as possible.
With no injuries reported after the game, he has had the luxury of selecting from the squad, with the added bonus of having Curwin Bosch back.
Bosch arrived in Durban too late last week from Springbok duty for inclusion, but is back in the side in one of four changes, two each to the forward pack and the backline.
Upfront there is a rejigged front row, with Thomas du Toit coming in for Juan Schoeman at loosehead prop, with Ross Geldenhuys replacing John-Hubert Meyer at tighthead. Akker van der Merwe retains his place at hooker.
Bosch is named at flyhalf in Benhard Janse van Rensburg’s place, while Garth April takes over from the injured Inny Radebe at fullback in the final personnel change.
Louis Schreuder’s good form is rewarded with another start, and the new scrumhalf is loving being with the Sharks, even if he’s not quite the spring chicken his teammates are.
“At 27, I’m one of the oldest players in the team, certainly in the backline, they’re all under 22 years of age. I’m an old ballie, but these guys are talented, keen and eager and I’m enjoying playing with them,” he explains.
Although the Sharks are on top of the log, Schreuder acknowledges that nothing has been achieved just yet.
“We have a tough challenge ahead of us, we’re not perfect. In fact, we’re far from where we want to be playing, but we are excited about this match.”
The Pumas lost to the Golden Lions by a solitary point last weekend after a quite convincing 51-15 victory over the Bulls the previous week, and he warns that they are no easy target.
“They are a quality outfit with a good group of players. They are quite physical and have had some good results and only narrow losses, so it’s not going to be easy.
“Friday night is going to be big, we just need to concentrate on what we want to do.”
15 Garth April, 14 Tythan Adams, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Lukhanyo Am, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Bench: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Marius Louw, 22 Rhyno Smith.
African News Agency (ANA)