CAPE TOWN – Sharks fans, get ready for the Makazole Mapimpi Show!
The exciting wing from Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape will make his Super Rugby debut for the Durban franchise in Saturday’s tournament opener against the Lions at Ellis Park.
Try-scoring machine Mapimpi – who has hardly stopped crossing the whitewash over the last 14 months with the Southern Kings and then the Cheetahs – was named at left wing in a powerful Sharks backline that sees another thunderous presence in Sbu Nkosi on the right, with Lukhanyo Am partnered by André Esterhuizen in midfield.
In somewhat of a surprise, regular wing Lwazi Mvovo lines up at fullback, with Springbok Curwin Bosch on the bench, and Robert du Preez in the No 10 jersey. Due to the injured Louis Schreuder, Cameron Wright gets an opportunity at scrumhalf.
But there are some big calls in the pack from coach Robert du Preez, with veteran loosehead prop Tendai Mtawaria starting on the bench – although that might be down to the fact that the Boks started pre-season late due to the Euro tour that ended in early December – and Juan Schoeman wearing the No 1 jersey.
Bok loose forward Daniel du Preez is also among the substitutes, with the experienced Keegan Daniel preferred at No 8.
15 Lwazi Mvovo 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 André Esterhuizen 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 (captain) 3 Thomas du Toit 2 Franco Marais 1 Juan Schoeman.
Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe 17 John-Hubert Meyer 18 Tendai Mtawarira 19 Hyron Andrews 20 Daniel du Preez 21 Michael Claassens 22 Kobus van Wyk 23 Curwin Bosch.