Crunch Durban derby won’t degenerate into personal battles

Akker van der Merwe. Photo: Gallo Images.

Akker van der Merwe. Photo: Gallo Images.

There are quite a few Lions and Sharks players competing in the same position at national level present at King’s Park this weekend.

If there’s going to be a theme that dominates Saturday’s crunch Super Rugby derby between the Sharks and Lions in Durban, it’s going to be the numerous duels between the Springboks.

Arguably the biggest of them will be the battle of the hookers – Chiliboy Ralepelle or Akker van der Merwe against the fit-again Malcolm Marx.

Marx has been singled out by Sharks skipper Ruan Botha as a man with a point to prove after frustratingly missing the series against England due to a hamstring injury.

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But the dynamic No 2 already looked menacing again last weekend in a SuperSport Rugby Challenge match for the Golden Lions against a strong Blue Bulls side.

“The Lions have a few big names returning like Malcolm,” said Botha.

“I know a guy like him is going to try his best to reach his peak and regain his spot in the Bok team.”

Yet it doesn’t end there.

Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi might’ve formed a promising combination of wingers at international level but their on opposite sides this weekend while flyhalves Elton Jantjies and Robert du Preez were both deputies to Handre Pollard in the national side.

Jantjies might have a point to prove after being hammered for his performance at Newlands last weekend.

Even Warren Whiteley’s expected return at eighthman could translate into a spicy battle with Dan du Preez, another Springbok member.

Botha though insists personal ambitions will be put aside at King’s Park.

“If you asked me that question a month ago, I would’ve told you a lot was at stake in terms of personal goals,” he said.

“Those guys have made their debuts now, there won’t be any personal battles. All the players in our group are very humble. They’re just happy to be back.”




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