Sharks coach Robert du Preez made five changes to his starting line-up for the Super Rugby match against the Reds at Kings Park on Friday, but the alterations have more to do with the demands of the Springboks than any sort of response to the horrors of last weekend when the team took 51 points against the Jaguares in Durban.
Beast Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen return to the front row after resting last weekend, but Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, who have consistently been the best Sharks backs this season, now have to rest, with Kobus van Wyk coming into the midfield and Springbok Sbu Nkosi back on the wing as their replacements.
“Makazole and Lukhanyo have been rested according to the Springbok protocols,” Du Preez stated at the team announcement.
“The decision was made not to single out players for last week because the team as a whole played badly. They have been given the opportunity to rectify that on Friday and the boys have responded well after that disappointing performance.
“The coaching staff had the usual Sunday morning meeting after the game, the process is the same win or lose.”
The only other change to the starting line-up sees hardworking flank Jacques Vermeulen, who should be president of the Sharks’ Unsung Heroes Club, returning in place of Luke Stringer, while the bench has greater potential to make an impact this week with the return of another stalwart forward in Tyler Paul, scrumhalf Cameron Wright and exciting young centre Marius Louw, who is over his suspension.
Sharks: Curwin Bosch, Sbu Nkosi, Kobus van Wyk, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Robert du Preez jr, Louis Schreuder (c), Dan du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Philip van der Walt, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Beast Mtawarira. Bench: Fez Mbatha, Juan Schoeman, Thomas du Toit, Tyler Paul, Jean-Luc du Preez, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Aphelele Fassi.