Philip van der Walt, seen here in action with Lions hooker Malcom Marx, will start against the Blues. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

DURBAN - The Sharks have opted to stick to continuity in their first game against New Zealand opposition since 2016, changing only two in the team to face the Blues at 08:45 on Saturday.

Andre Esterhuizen returns after missing last week’s match, displacing Marius Louw to the bench, while Philip van der Walt, who flew over to replace the injured Wian Vosloo, has come in for the suspended Jacques Vermeulen.

Tyler Paul replaces Wian Vosloo amongst the replacements as the final change to the matchday 23.

“We’re fortunate to have a guy like Philip back and ready to play, he brings a lot of experience and leadership,” said coach Robert du Preez.

Although the results haven’t gone their way on tour, the coach explained from the team’s camp in Auckland that there was nothing negative within the team environment to negatively influence them.

“There are no issues in the team, nothing sinister; we’ve lost two games and this happens and it’s not the first time a touring team has lost two games,” Du Preez pointed out. “In saying that, it’s obviously very disappointing for us, we’ve worked incredibly hard, the team and the coaches.

“There was no faulting the effort against the Rebels, although the accuracy and the execution was there and it’s something we’ve been working on. The Rebels played good rugby, it must be admitted.

“The boys are very disappointed and frustrated because they know they’re letting the fans and themselves down. But we have to keep on working harder, that starts with us coaches because we’re all in this together.

“We’re not pointing fingers, we have to fix this, together; I know we will.”

Sharks team: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk.

IOL Sport

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