Sharks team selection for Currie Cup semi-final will raise eyebrows
DURBAN - The Sharks have picked a tight five for their Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province that will raise some eyebrows.
The obvious narrative ahead of this match has been about whether the Sharks’ pack can live with their opponents, and supply enough decent possession for their world-class backline to flourish.
To that end, coach Sean Everitt welcomes back Springbok tighthead Thomas du Toit from Covid isolation in what is a massive boost for the Sharks, but he has also chosen Fez Mbatha to start at hooker and JJ van der Mescht comes into the second row in place of Hyron Andrews.
The latter had formed a consistent partnership with Ruben van Heerden for most of this season but clearly Everitt feels he needs Van der Mescht’s considerable bulk for the set-piece battle.
It is the first time that Everitt has picked two bruisers in his second row, and while he loses mobility in the lanky Andrews, he has beefed up his engine room.
Mbatha, just 21, played really well when given a chance in the Sharks’ last match — their emphatic win over Griquas — and the coach has preferred him to Dan Jooste.
In the backline, the significant change is the return of Sanele Nohamba after two games in the wilderness. He replaces Jaden Hendrikse.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Marius Louw 11 Yaw Penxe 10 Curwin Bosch 9 Sanele Nohamba 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe 7 Henco Venter 6 Dylan Richardson 5 Ruben van Heerden 4 JJ van der Mescht 3 Thomas du Toit 2 Fez Mbatha 1 Ox Nche.
Substitutes: Dan Jooste, Mzamo Majola, Michael Kumberai, Hyron Andrews, Thembelani Bholi, Jaden Hendrikse, Jeremy Ward, Manie Libbok