DURBAN – The Sharks desperately want to get their tour on track after a poor show against the Brumbies last week, although Du Preez says that game is water under the bridge.
“A big thing we took out of the game is the absolute priority to start well against Aussie teams,” he said “We started poorly and never recovered, but in a competition as tough as this one you have to take the good with the bad and move on.
“There is a good energy and the guys are excited about getting on to the pitch and playing some good rugby.”
He said Canberra was a “bad day at the office” and a big focus this week has been on hitting the ground running and dictating the game instead of playing catch-up.
“I have no doubt that when we start well and get on a roll, we are hard to stop. I am confident it will be a good evening in Melbourne for us.”
Du Preez has had to make a few adjustments to his starting line-up. Centre Andre Esterhuizen was injured against the Brumbies and is replaced by Marius Louw, who played well in the Sharks’ warm-up matches when Esterhuizen was still unavailable because of his Japanese club commitments.
In the front row, Tendai Mtawarira is back in the starting line-up after missing the Brumbies game with a slight groin injury.
Du Preez said an analysis of the Rebels, coached by South African Dave Wessels, showed a well-structured team.
“Their strength is their defence and their patience. They are conservative and do not play a lot of rugby in their half. They make few mistakes, and they had conceded very few tries until the 51-27 Waratahs blow-out last week. Until that match, they had the best defence in the competition.”
The Rebels also have arguably the best scrumhalf in Australia in Will Genia, who runs the show.In other changes, wings with Sbu Nkosi and Lwazi Mvovo replace Makazole Mapimpi and Kobus van Wyk respectively, while Wian Vosloo shifts to the bench with Jacques Vermeulen taking his place to accommodate the returning Jean-Luc du Preez.
The Sharks team is:
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Garth April.