PRETORIA - The Sharks will host the Bulls in Durban on Saturday in a match with a strong Springbok taste about it, thanks to the release of a couple of players from the Bok camp.
Flank Daniel du Preez returns to the side as does hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, with head coach Robert du Preez bolstering his side for what is expected to be a hugely physical, confrontational match against a Blue Bulls side currently languishing in second last spot on the log, but intent on changing that.
Sbu Nkosi will be looking to show the national selectors just why they have shown faith in him after being included in the Springbok squad for the two remaining home matches of the Rugby Championship. The 21-year-old former junior Springbok is currently the joint top try scorer in the Currie Cup competition and will no doubt play with a spring in his step following the good news.
There is just one change to the backline, Louis Schreuder has been granted leave to attend a family event with Michael Claassens replacing him at scrumhalf, while Du Preez has made four personnel changes in the pack.
Daniel du Preez replaces Tera Mtembu at eighthman while Jacques Vermeulen returns to the side at flank, which means Tyler Paul moves to lock in place of Jean Droste. There are two changes in the front row, Thomas du Toit is back in the starting team after playing off the bench last week, while Ralepelle comes in for Franco Marais at hooker.
“Ultimately we must continue to focus on ourselves and make sure that we continue to bring the same attitude. We obviously want to continue to bring the same sort of team work and always searching to become smarter in our game. It is not about focusing on the Sharks or the log, it’s actually just focusing on ourselves and that is what we are preoccupied with,” Mitchell said.
Blue Bulls starting XV: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Burger Odendaal (captain), JT Jackson, Johnny Kotze, Marnitz Boshoff, Ivan van Zyl, Jano Venter, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Piet van Zyl, Handre Pollard, Ulrich Beyers
Sharks starting XV: Garth April, Odwa Ndungane, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Sbu Nkosi, Curwin Bosch, Michael Claassens, Dan du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Botha (captain), Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Jean Droste, Tera Mtembu, Cameron Wright, Tristan Blewett, Rhyno Smith