DURBAN – Sharks versus Hurricanes matches have never been dull, but Saturday’s encounter at Kings Park (3.05pm kickoff) should be particularly thrilling, given the talents of the opposing flyhalves.
All Blacks incumbent Beauden Barrett and the Sharks’ Curwin Bosch standing toe to toe is alone worth the price of the admission.
Barrett, who turned 28 this week, is at the height of his powers, while the 21-year-old Bosch is swiftly realising the potential that saw him play two years for the SA Under-20 team before joining the Sharks.
He had a very good debut year in 2017, only to fall strangely from favour in 2018.
Barrett, the scorer of an incredible 32 tries in his 73 Tests, is the benchmark that Bosch will be aiming for, and he will be eager to measure himself tomorrow against the 2017 World Rugby Player of the Year.
Bosch has been a revelation for the Sharks this season since he was given his shot in the No 10 jersey in the tour opener against the Waratahs.
He was Man-of-the-Match in that game and kept the award for the matches against the Crusaders and Chiefs, giving him a clean sweep for the tour despite playing less than three-quarters of the matches at flyhalf.
As SuperSport analyst Nick Mallett said after Bosch had starred in his team’s victory over the Lions last week: “I can’t for the life of me understand why he is not left to play out the full 80 minutes at flyhalf...”
One thing Barrett and Bosch have in common is pace.
Bosch was a 100m and 200m SA champion at school, while Barrett has exhibited his pace not only in many of those tries he has scored for the All Blacks, but also in a number of try-saving tackles.
One of those was against the Springboks at Ellis Park in 2013, when he reeled in Willie le Roux after a 50-metre chase to deny the Boks a try and a win.
Barrett returns to the Hurricanes side after he was rested for his side’s last match against the Jaguares, which was won by the Argentinians in Wellington.
Coach John Plumtree has brought back fit-again No 8 Reed Prinsep and in the second row, Kane Le’aupepe replaces Isaia Walker-Leawere.
All Black hooker Dane Coles has been named on the bench, along with experienced loose forward Gareth Evans, the pair returning after being sidelined with calf injuries.
For the Sharks, Jacques Vermeulen starts in the only change to the line-up that beat the Lions, replacing injured Philip van der Walt.
On the bench, Tyler Paul comes into the squad, and the hooker cover will be Cullen Collopy, as Dylan Richardson and Fez Mbatha are with the Junior Boks.@MikeGreenaway67