Sharks’ depth is invaluable, says coach Sean Everitt
DURBAN – The Sharks’ policy of rotation throughout Super Rugby Unlocked has stood them in good stead after 10 first-choice players could not be picked for Friday night’s Currie Cup opener against the Pumas at Kings Park in Durban.
One of the up-and-comers that were fully blooded and given extended game time was lock JJ van der Mescht, and if that had not happened coach Sean Everitt would not be in the position to pick the 21-year-old on the flank for this game, in an emergency measure.
The Sharks are critically short of loose forwards because of the Covid-19 outbreak that struck them last week.
“We had a pre-season goal of growing our squad and the rotation we did has really helped us now,” Everitt said.
“We gave the likes of JJ opportunities and that has resulted in us having options.”
With the 127kg Van der Mescht on the flank and the 136kg Thomas du Toit back from injury, the Sharks’ pack is suddenly much heftier, and that can only be a good thing considering their set scrum has not looked comfortable.
“Thomas’s return is good for us, we have struggled in the set-piece when he has not been there. It is always good to get a Springbok forward back,” the coach admitted.
While the Sharks under Everitt have maintained that their focus is solely on performance, Everitt agrees that log points are vital in this match, given that the Bulls start the Currie Cup with a four-point advantage over the Sharks.
“Although we are performance driven, the long-term goal is obviously to win trophies, but you can’t win trophies if you are not performing.
“That said, this is a home game and with no travel, it is an opportunity to play to our optimum and to try and get five log points.
“And we have done really well this year at home this year – we have not lost and keeping that record is motivation for us.”
Van der Mescht partners Thembelani Bholi at No 8 while Dylan Richardson continues in the open side role where he has played so well over the last month.
There is only one change in the backline where Manie Libbok comes in for injured fullback Anthony Volmink.
Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi has to be content with a role off the bench after being forced to miss training while awaiting results of a routine Covid test.
Starting XV: Manie Libbok, Yaw Penxe, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Madosh Tambwe, Curwin Bosch, Sanele Nohamba, Thembelani Boli, JJ van der Mescht, Dylan Richardson, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit, Kerron van Vuuren, Ox Nche
Replacements: Dan Jooste, Khwezi Mona, Hanro Jacobs, Zain Davids, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cameron Wright, Werner Kok, Sbu Nkosi