Makazole Mapimpi back in the fast lane for the Sharks
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DURBAN - There are widespread changes to the Sharks team to play the Lions in a Rainbow Cup match in Johannesburg, with one of them the welcome return of Springbok star Makazole Mapimpi to the South African stage.
Mapimpi is back from a stint in Japan and the Sharks will be dearly hoping that the try-scoring machine comes to the party for them to help end their two-match losing streak.
The Sharks have to win this penultimate game in the competition if they hope to make their home game next week against the Bulls a final of sorts — the four SA teams would all love to contest the big inter-hemisphere final between the winner of the northern and southern sections of the Rainbow Cup.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt has been obliged to rest a number of his stars in line with Springbok protocols but he has nevertheless put together a powerful lineup, packed with players with everything to prove.
Everitt has named an all-new front row, with Ntuthuko Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren and Wiehahn Herbst taking over from Ox Nche, Fez Mbatha and Thomas du Toit, all of whom will make an appearance later in the game off the bench.
In the second row, Hyron Andrews returns to the side after a long absence in the place of Reniel Hugo, while opensider James Venter will relish a rare start after months out of the starting lineup. He is one of those players who will want to make a statement.
At No 8, Phepsi Buthelezi takes over from injured Sikhumbuzo Notshe while Henco Venter completes the loose trio and will also captain the side — Lukhanyo Am is rested this week.
Backline changes see Manie Libbok replacing Curwin Bosch at flyhalf, Yaw Penxe taking over from the injured Sbu Nkosi on the other wing and Werner Kok replacing Am at centre. The final change sees Anthony Volmink in for Aphelele Fassi at fullback.
Sharsks: 15 Anthony Volmink 14 Yaw Penxe 13 Werner Kok 12 Marius Louw 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Manie Libbok 9 Jaden Hendrikse 8 Phepsi Buthelezi 7 Henco Venter (capt) 6 James Venter 5 Hyron Andrews 4 JJ van der Mescht 3 Wiehahn Herbst 2 Kerron van Vuuren 1 NtuthukoMchunu.
Substitutes: Fez Matha, Ox Nche, Thomas du Toit, Ruben van Heerden, Thembelani Bholi, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Jeremy Ward.