Thomas du Toit will move over from tighthead to loosehead prop, while Ruan Botha comes in at No 5 lock for the Sharks against the Crusaders. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

The Sharks have been forced to rejig their front row for Friday’s huge Super Rugby showdown with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Veteran prop Tendai Mtawarira has returned to Durban due to a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury to his left knee.

It is unclear how long the Springbok loosehead will be out of action for, but MCL injuries can take up to four weeks to heal.

Mtawarira’s absence sees Thomas du Toit – who was outstanding at tighthead in last week’s 23-15 victory over the Waratahs in Sydney – move over to the No 1 jersey.

Another Bok in Coenie Oosthuizen comes off the bench into tighthead.

Team captain Louis Schreuder is also reinstated at scrumhalf in place of Cameron Wright, and takes over the leadership duties from Mtawarira.

One last change is in the second row, where the industrious Hyron Andrews has been given a breather – although he is still on the bench – with Ruan Botha starting at No 5 lock.

Sharks coach Robert du Preez has opted to retain Curwin Bosch at flyhalf ahead of son Robert Junior, after Bosch produced a classy display against the Waratahs.

“We played really well and were in control of the game, dominating them,” Du Preez told the Sharks website about the Waratahs match.

“The conditions are a lot better here and not as humid as in Durban, but we have been working on handling and our basics, and the message this week is ‘Back to basics’.”

Friday’s encounter at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch kicks off at 9.35am SA time.

Sharks Team

15 Aphelele Fassi 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Andre Esterhuizen 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Curwin Bosch 9 Louis Schreuder (captain) 8 Daniel du Preez 7 Jean-Luc du Preez 6 Philip van der Walt 5 Ruan Botha 4 Ruben van Heerden 3 Coenie Oosthuizen 2 Kerron van Vuuren 1 Thomas du Toit.

Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe 17 Mzamo Majola 18 John-Hubert Meyer 19 Hyron Andrews 20 Jacques Vermeulen 21 Cameron Wright 22 Robert du Preez 23 Marius Louw.

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