Siya Kolisi did ok in Cape Town, but judging by coach Sean Everitt’s report card since the Springbok captain moved to Durban, the Sharks are expecting him to have an explosive impact in the Rainbow Cup.
And, as fate would have it, the Sharks’ first game in the new competition is back in Cape Town against the Stormers this weekend, with Kolisi being named on Thursday in the starting line-up in the No 6 jersey.
“Siya arrived here under a lot of pressure but he certainly stood up and has trained very hard,” Everitt said on Thursday.
“The training has been a step up from what he was used to, but he has had really good preparation now and there has been a vast improvement in his conditioning.
“As he showed in the Preparation Series, his contributions on the field are telling and he’s a lot more involved in our system than he was with Western Province.
“He brings a lot of experience and leadership too, and the guys look up to him and take a lot of confidence from him being on the field.”
The Sharks ruined Western Province’s farewell to Newlands back in January when they beat them 19-9 in the Currie Cup semifinals. They absorbed plenty of pressure from the much-vaunted WP pack on that day, demolishing their maul, and Everitt backed his pack to nullify the Stormers up front again.
“Obviously the challenge is going to come at scrum and lineout time, but it’s the same scrums both teams had in Super Rugby and a turnover scrum won us that game,” he said.
“Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit are both in the Springbok fold and Fez Mbatha must be knocking on the door, so it’s going to be an interesting tussle with their front row.
“In the Currie Cup, Western Province were more set-piece orientated, but I think the Stormers will come with a mixture of styles on Saturday because they would have got a lot of confidence from the Preparation Series where they scored some great tries and their attack certainly came on in leaps and bounds.
“That makes it more difficult for us, but if we nullify them up front then we should be okay.”
Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am (C), Jeremy Ward, Yaw Penxe, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi, Reniel Hugo, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit, Fez Mbatha, Ox Nche.
Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Wiehahn Herbst, JJ van der Mescht, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Manie Libbok, Werner Kok.