DURBAN – Sharks coach Robert du Preez showed his hand ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby season when he named his starting 15 for Saturday’s match against Racing 92 in Hong Kong.
At flyhalf, the coach has chosen Robert du Preez jnr, last year’s outstanding Stormers and Western Province while Du Preez’s rival in last year’s Currie Cup final, Curwin Bosch, is on the bench.
Bosch, who is equally at home at fullback, will cover both Du Preez and starting 15 Lwazi Mvovo, who is on course to be retreaded from wing to fullback in an exciting back three that is completed by the thrilling former Cheetahs and Kings wing Makazole Mapimpi, and Kobus van Wyk.
Still to return to the squad from duty in Japan is burly centre Andre Esterhuizen, who in the meantime has exciting youngster Marius Louw in possession of the No 12 jersey. The 22-year-old Louw was a flanker at Grey College in Bloemfontein but has switched to inside centre since joining the Sharks from school.
The Sharks are also missing injured scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and hooker Akker van der Merwe, and long-term casualty Coenie Oosthuizen, the injured Springbok tighthead prop. Veteran loosehead Tendai Mtawarira is unavailable for personal reasons.
Otherwise, the team to play the Lions on February 17 looks to be taking shape. This is the Sharks' last warm-up match before Super Rugby.
While the match against the Parisian club will not be televised, it will be streamed live on the Sharks’ Facebook page from 10am on Saturday.
The Sharks team is:
15 Lwazi Mvovo 14 Kobus van Wyk 13 Lukhanho Am 12 Marius Louw 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Robert du Preez 9 Cameron Wright 8 Keegan Daniel 7 Jacques Vermeulen 6 Philip van der Walt 5 Stephan Lewies 4 Ruan Botha (capt) 3 Thomas du Toit 2 Franco Marais 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Tyler Paul, Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu, Grant Williams, Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward, Sbusiso Nkosi, Garth April