Six Sharks to keep an eye on in Friday’s Challenge Cup final against Gloucester

The Challenge Cup trophy on display ahead of Friday’s final between the Sharks and Gloucester at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Photo: SA Rugby on X

The Challenge Cup trophy on display ahead of Friday’s final between the Sharks and Gloucester at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Photo: SA Rugby on X

Published May 24, 2024


The Sharks will be looking to write their names in the history books when they face Gloucester in the final of the EPCR Challenge Cup in London on Friday night.

Should the men from Durban win the encounter, they will become the first South African team to lift a European title, and that will be a big boost for the franchise after their struggles in the United Rugby Championship.

Head coach John Plumtree will hoping everything comes together for his Springbok laden-team, who have been installed as favourites to lift trophy.

IOL Sport’s Lunga Biyela takes a look at six Sharks players who could have an impact in Friday’s final at the home of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Eben Etzebeth — Elizabedi will lead the side in the absence of fellow two-time Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok Lukhanyo Am, who misses out through injury. Etzebeth’s ability as an enforcer will be key for the men from Durban, while his ball-carrying will also be important.

Ox Nche — Retshegofaditswe Nche will be snacking on all the cakes leading up to the game in order to help the team gain an advantage in the scrum. He’s been in the form of his life recently, and will be one of the men to watch in London.

Siya Masuku — There’s another Siya turning heads and getting everyone talking in South African rugby. Masuku has been brilliant since edging Curwin Bosch out of the No 10 jersey. He can kick penalties from all over the park, and his ability with ball-in-hand is second to none. Will be hoping for another top performance to impress Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

Ethan Hooker — At just 21 years old, Hooker has been turning heads with his solid performances in the black and white. Plumtree is clearly confident that Westville Old Boy has the ability to fill the massive boots of injured skipper Lukhanyo Am. Erasmus will surely also be keeping an eye on the youngster.

Grant Williams — The presence of two Springbok scrumhalves in the Sharks’ squad has caused Plumtree a selection headache this season. Jaden Hendrikse has been the first choice for much of the season, but now that’s he’s injured, fellow Rugby World Cup-winner Williams has slotted in seamlessly. It can be argued that the Sharks have played their best rugby this season when Williams and Masuku have been the halfback pair.

Aphelele Fassi — The Weekend Special is back. After missing out on Springbok selection over the last couple of years, Fassi’s performances this season have reminded everyone about what he is capable of. For large parts of the season, he’s been the only bright spark for the team. Should he fire on Friday, the Challenge Cup could be headed for KwaZulu-Natal.

IOL Sport