DURBAN - The Sharks will be swinging open the gates of Kings Park for the first time this season as they welcome the Waratahs on Saturday. Coming off a bye though, they will want to impress from the outset as they have had enough time to right the wrongs of Ellis Park.
The Sharks came into the Super Rugby campaign off the back of two friendlies in Polokwane against the Bulls, then in Hong Kong against Racing 92. They then went into the game against the Lions essentially getting in three games before last week's break.
It has allowed the players to consolidate, get over a few niggles, and fight off a bout of flu that struck Kings Park last week.
“We used the time well in the off week,” coach Robert du Preez said. “It was also time for a couple of guys who had flu or a few niggles to recover properly, and then we had a great week of training.
“The boys are really looking forward to the challenge. We don’t mind the bye, but Saturday is a massive one for us, our first home game.”
While still only one game down, there are signs that a lot of rugby has been played by the Sharks as already Makazole Mapimpi has been rested. Of course, the speedy wing is an exceptional case as his off-season with the Cheetahs previously was taken up by the PRO14.
Mapimpi gets a break this week with coach Du Preez eyeing the upcoming tour as an important part of their season.
“Mapimpi is being rested, he is a guy that has played a lot of rugby so we thought we needed to give him a break now, especially before we go on tour,” the coach explained.
Philip van der Walt is also out of action, having sprained an ankle ligament, but again, it is the tour that the coach is eyeing, believing that both he, and Dan du Preez, who hurt his shoulder, should be in contention.
“Philip unfortunately hurt his ankle in practice, so he will be out for a few weeks, but it is not too serious, just a ligament sprain; hopefully he will be in contention for the tour. But we will wait and see. Dan hurt his shoulder, he will be out for a while, but will be in contention to go on tour,” the coach added.
Other changes include Keegan Daniel making his way back into the team after a late withdrawal in Johannesburg, and Louis Schreuder is fit again after Cameron Wright deputised so well for him.
“Louis has made really good progress and we are happy to start him,” Du Preez said.
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Curwin Bosch.