Coaches who have won two games in a row are normally reticent to make changes to their line-up in case they put a ding in their winning momentum, but Sharks mentor Sean Everitt has replaced his flyhalf for Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Sharks have beaten both the Golden Lions and the Blue Bulls up on the Highveld in the last two weeks to reach the playoffs, and they have done it with a 20-year-old at flyhalf in Boeta Chamberlain, who held his own in a tight finish at Ellis Park and then put on a dominant display at Loftus Versfeld.
But Springbok Curwin Bosch, who suffered a back injury in the last-minute win over Free State in Durban three weeks ago, is fit again and Everitt has recalled the 22-year-old due to his greater experience, while admitting that the excellent game-management of halfbacks Sanele Nohamba and Chamberlain has been where the Sharks have really improved over the last fortnight.
“I feel for Boeta because he did really well and is in good form, so he’s unfortunate to lose out. But Curwin is the incumbent and has a lot of experience in knockout games, we’re happy to have him back. He’s trained really well and his leadership will be important for the backline.
“We’ve managed the game better in the last couple of weeks, it’s about space and momentum when it comes to playing with ball in hand, and that’s something Sanele and Boeta have been really good at. We’re not going to change our strategy and our kicking game has been really good, that helps with the territory battle. We’ve played some really good rugby and put pressure on the opposition in their half,” Everitt said after announcing his team in Durban.
Poor Chamberlain hasn’t even managed to find a chair on the substitutes’ bench, with Rhyno Smith, who can cover both fullback and flyhalf, being preferred as Everitt has stuck with all the other 22 players who won the semifinal place in Pretoria last weekend.
Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Kobus van Wyk, Jeremy Ward (c-c), Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Curwin Bosch, Sanele Nohamba, Tera Mtembu (c-c), Jacques Vermeulen, Phepsi Buthelezi, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Thomas du Toit. Bench: Dylan Richardson, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Gideon Koegelenberg, Andisa Ntsila, Cam Wright, Rhyno Smith, JP Pietersen.
Free State Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Dries Swanepoel, Tian Meyer, Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar, Henco Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Junior Pokomela, Walt Steenkamp, Sintu Manjezi, Erich de Jager, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche. Bench: Jacques du Toit, Schalk van der Merwe, Reinach Venter, JP du Preez, Gerhard Olivier, Jasper Wiese, Darren Adonis, Louis Fouche.