DURBAN – The Sharks made four changes to their team to face the Stormers in their Super Rugby match at Newlands, in Cape Town, on Saturday.
A loss to the Sharks will consign the Stormers to finish bottom of the South African Conference, but they can expect little charity from a Sharks side aiming to qualify for the play-offs in two weeks’ time.
Centre Andre Esterhuizen has added a number of strings to his bow and is now a more complete player, and he will continue his partnership with outside centre Lukhanyo Am.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez has been forced to make a change at flank where Jacques Vermeulen replaces the injured Jean-Luc du Preez in one of four changes to the side that beat the Lions at Kings Park last week.
In the second change to the pack, Juan Schoeman comes in for Beast Mtawarira who, with his heavy workload in June for the Springboks and Sharks, gets a break, but will play off the bench.
Scrumhalves Louis Schreuder and Cameron Wright rotate, while Sbu Nkosi returns after pulling out of the Lions match at the last minute, with Lwazi Mvovo retaining a starting position on the other wing, with Makazole Mapimpi turning out for the Sharks XV.
“That win over the Lions was a great game for us, we’re very happy with the result,” Esterhuizen said. “Our defence was brilliant, in the first half we had to defend for 20 or 25 minutes at one stage and all the boys stepped up. In the second half we played great rugby, got some possession and hung on to the ball a bit more and that’s when we started playing a bit.
“We want to win all our games, we just want to play our best rugby and we know that if we do, we can win these final pool games.”
Of the Stormers, Esterhuizen admitted that it won’t be easy against a side playing for nothing but pride.
“It’s their last game, a home game and because they haven’t had a great year, we know they will throw everything at us. They have nothing to lose and will want to finish the tournament off on a positive.
“It’s going to be tough, we expect a lot from them.”
There is a substantial milestone to celebrate with Thomas du Toit playing in his Super Rugby match for the Sharks this Saturday.
The Sharks team is:
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk
African News Agency (ANA)