DURBAN – The Sharks will be boosted by the record-holding veteran, Tendai Mtawarira, who will add to his more than 140 caps for the Sharks as he lines up in the No 1 jersey on Saturday against the Highlanders (5pm kickoff).
Mtawarira is one of three changes to the Sharks side which had a break last week; their second bye of the competition. The Bok prop missed the last two games before the bye, against the Stormers and Bulls, but is now fully recovered from a groin injury.
He will have beside him a new hooker as Akker van der Merwe starts ahead of another Springbok, Chiliboy Ralepelle. Stephen Lewies also falls out of the match-day squad in a rotational change, with Tyler Paul starting at lock.
The rest of the pack, as well as the entire backline, remain unchanged from the side that defeated the Stormers two weeks ago.
The Highlanders’ last-gasp victory over the Bulls at Loftus last weekend – in injury time – will have given the southern-most New Zealand team plenty of confidence going into this fixture. However, the Sharks will look to punish any overconfidence they might arrive in Durban with.
The visitors will certainly take confidence from their log position – currently fifth on the overall log – showing that they are well on track for a top eight finish and a place in the knockout rounds.
For the Sharks, a battle royale on the South African Conference means that this game has plenty riding on the outcome as the four places behind the first-place Lions are separated by only two points.
The Sharks Team is:
15 Curwin Bosch 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 André Esterhuizen 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Robert du Preez 9 Cameron Wright 8 Daniel du Preez 7 Jean-Luc du Preez 6 Philip van der Walt 5 Ruan Botha (captain) 4 Tyler Paul 3 Thomas du Toit 2 Akker van der Merwe 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
16 Franco Marais 17 Juan Schoeman 18. Ross Geldenhuys 19 Stephan Lewies 20 Jacques Vermeulen 21 Louis Schreuder 22 Marius Louw 23 Lwazi Mvovo.