If Sharks coach Robert du Preez is not extremely content with their winning start to Super Rugby this year, then his selection certainly doesn’t show it as he named the same starting XV for the third straight match for their big clash with the Stormers in Durban on Saturday.
While Du Preez made a couple of changes to his bench between the victories against the Sunwolves and Blues, he announced the same 23-man squad for their first game against a fellow South African side this week.
“We’ve been blessed so far to be able to select the same squad. There will be rotation at some time, but at the moment we have good continuity and we wanted to build on that. We know it’s going to be very tough and we are still a work in progress, you haven’t seen the best of this Sharks team just yet,” Du Preez said.
Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi’s chances of playing looked a bit iffy when he was stretchered off the field during the 26-7 win over the Blues at Kings Park last weekend, but the crowd favourite will be back in action.
Nkosi is part of a backline that has long been considered a green mamba in terms of danger, but it now finally seems to have uncoiled and is beginning to strike.
Backline players have scored five of the Sharks’ nine tries in their first two games, including one by Nkosi.
Outside centre Lukhanyo Am has been the creative force in the backline for the Sharks and he is clearly enjoying his rugby at the moment.
“We couldn’t ask for much better than the two big wins, it’s a confidence-booster for us going into this week’s match against the Stormers.
“There’s a great energy in the team, there’s a sense that everyone’s involved and has to take responsibility – from number one to 15. After round two I’d say I’m reasonably impressed with the way I’ve been going,” Am said.
Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Robert du Preez jr, Louis Schreuder (c), Dan du Preez, Tyler Paul, Jacques Vermeulen, Ruan Botha, Hyron Andrews, Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe, Beast Mtawarira. Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Juan Schoeman, Thomas du Toit, Gideon Koegelenberg, Pepsi Buthelezi, Cameron Wright, Jeremy Ward, Curwin Bosch.