DURBAN - It remains a touch hazy just what the Racing 92 line-up will look like when they play the Sharks in Hong Kong on Saturday but what is likely is that legend Dan Carter will be part of the historic fixture.
The Paris club have not announced their squad to play the Sharks but it is known that All Blacks hero Carter only last week made his return from long-term injury and is in need of game time while former Sharks captain Lambie is definitely not going to be in Hong Kong.
Lambie is being rested because of a heavy recent work load at flyhalf for a Racing team that is second in the French Top 14. Reports from France say that Lambie has a tight groin and recently suffered a gash to the forehead, and thus will be rested from the clash against his former team.
Racing will also be without eight leading players that have been called up to the France Six Nations squad. Nevertheless, Racing will be formidable opposition for a Sharks squad that is still heavily rusty from the off-season.
No South African Super Rugby side has ever played in Hong Kong and the fixture has been promoted by sponsors Natixis as part of the build-up to the famous Hong Kong Sevens tournament in a fortnight’s time.
Racing are currently riding a wave of success, having defeated Castres 18-13 last week which pushed them into second place in the French Top 14. The previous week, they defeated Leicester 23-20 in the Champions Cup, following on from a 34-30 win over Munster the week before.
The Sharks, meanwhile, are two week’s away from their Super Rugby opener and the plan is to give the starting side 50 minutes or so to gel and then all 11 substitutes will be given a second-half run.
The run-on team for the Sharks will closely resemble the side that plays the Lions on February 17 in the first round of Super Rugby but there are also players that have not travelled to the Far East who will be in strong contention for that first match, including centre Andre Esterhuizen and loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira.
“We were pleased with our hit-out against the Bulls in Polokwane last week but we want to show improvement against Racing 92, and it will be a big test for us against a team that that has been performing consistently well in France,” said upbeat coach Robert du Preez
The match kicks off at 10am SA time and while it will not be televised in South Africa, it will be streamed live from the Sharks’ Facebook page.
15 Lwazi Mvovo 14 Kobus van Wyk 13 Lukhanho Am 12 Marius Louw 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Robert du Preez 9 Cameron Wright 8 Keegan Daniel 7 Jacques Vermeulen 6 Philip van der Walt 5 Stephan Lewies 4 Ruan Botha (capt) 3 Thomas du Toit 2 Franco Marais 1 Juan Schoeman. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Tyler Paul, Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu, Grant Williams, Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward, Sbusiso Nkosi, Garth April