DURBAN – New Sharks sensation Aphelele Fassi will start his first Currie Cup match on Friday night when the Pumas visit Kings Park, but it is a pity that his elevation from the bench is at the expense of Curwin Bosch.
The situation with Bosch grows ever distressing as the 2018 season wears on. First the 21-year-old was omitted from the Springbok squad in June and now his fall from grace continues with his relegation to the Sharks’ Currie Cup bench.
Bosch could not have a better pedigree — SA Schools in 2014 and 2015 plus SA Under-20 in 2016 and 2017 — but it looks like he is not going to add to his two Springbok caps any time soon, the reason being the perpetual allegation that his defence is fragile.
To be fair to Sharks’ coach Robert du Preez, Bosch was exposed on defence in last week’s Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein to such an extent that he suffered the ignominy of being pulled off at half time.
And now he can’t make the starting line-up, which is sad because barring defence, he is incredibly gifted in every aspect of the game required for fullback and flyhalf play. The Sharks’ coaching staff surely should make a plan to accommodate Bosch’s talent, working around his frailties while exploiting his talent.
Fassi, meanwhile, has made the most of the opportunities he has had on the wing in the friendly against Bordeaux and in the Currie Cup matches against the Bulls and Cheetahs, scoring a series of stunning solo tries. The 20-year-old has a bright future indeed.
Good news for the Currie Cup in general is the return to action of popular hooker Akker van der Merwe, who is on the bench after missing the opening two rounds, due to Springbok commitments.
In the Sharks’ final change for the Pumas match, flank Luke Stringer has been handed a start in only his second game for the Sharks, swapping places with Wian Vosloo. Stringer, a former Rondebosch Boys' High pupil, played 32 matched for Western Province before moving to the Sharks.
Despite the Pumas losing heavily to Western Province last week, the Sharks are expecting a tough battle up front from the Nelspruit team.
“The Pumas will be hurting and will look at our performance against Free State and believe they have a chance against us,” tighthead prop John-Hubert Meyer points out. “We’re expecting a really physical battle in the opening 20 minutes, so the forwards are going to have to front up and remove all hope from them in that early period of the game.
“We know they’re all about physicality from their pack, they’ll want to bully us,” the 24-year-old said. “But if we can remove that threat, I think we have the team to win. Our forwards have mentally prepared well for this and with our scrums and mauls going so well in the first two weeks, we’re backing ourselves.”
The Sharks team is:
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (c), 1 Juan Schoeman.
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Khutha Mchunu, 18 Andrew Evans, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Johan Deysel, 22 Curwin Bosch.