DURBAN – The Sharks have resisted wholesale changes for their vital clash against the Stormers in Durban on Saturday, 5pm.
There are three changes in the starting lineup as Tendai Mtawarira sits out another week after withdrawing late against the Bulls last week.
In the forwards, Daniel du Preez joins his twin, Jean-Luc, in the loose forwards, and his elder brother Robert still pulling the strings at 10. This is the first time that all three brothers will be starting a match for the Sharks.
There is reward for Cameron Wright who gets the number 9 jersey as Louis Schreuder drops to the bench and Makazole Mapimpi returns to the team in place of Lwazi Mvovo.
Centre Lukhanyo Am admits that the Sharks team will look to turn matters around against the Stormers, following the loss to the Bulls last week.
“We’re looking to put a disappointing loss behind us, we tried to be positive this week and focussed on what we need to do for the game against the Stormers. Bouncing back, as the team showed after the Australian leg, will be the primary aim, to show what this team is capable of.
“This game could be our season-changer, we’re looking to regain our confidence and consistency in this match. But there are no easy games and we’ll need to bring our A-game on Saturday.”
Although one might expect there to be added pressure with derby matches, Am explains that this isn’t necessarily the case. “Not really, we take it game for game, whether it’s home or away but it is always special playing at home.
Knowing what this team is capable of producing, as evidenced in the matches against the Blues and Hurricanes, gives confidence to the players, but replicating it is something that shouldn’t provide pressure; rather, motivation.
“We don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves,” Am explains. “We know our standards and what we can do. But we do be hard on ourselves when we don’t reach those standards.”
It’s no secret that putting the opposition under pressure with early points is going to be critical for victory.
“The first 20 minutes of the game is going to be vital, that’s what let us down against the Bulls and when they scored those early tries, we were left chasing the game. Our focus this week is on having a good start.”
The Sharks team is:
1 Juan Schoeman
2. Chiliboy Ralepelle
3. Thomas du Toit
4. Ruan Botha (captain)
5. Stephan Lewies
6. Philip van der Walt
7. Jean-Luc du Preez
8. Daniel du Preez
9. Cameron Wright
10. Robert du Preez
12. Andre Esterhuizen
13. Lukhanyo Am
14. Sbu Nkosi
15. Curwin Bosch
16. Akker van der Merwe
17. Mzamo Majola
18. Ross Geldenhuys
19. Tyler Paul
20. Jacques Vermeulen
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Marius Louw
23. Lwazi Mvovo