Continuity has always counted for a huge amount with Sharks director of rugby Jake White, so it’s no surprise that Currie Cup coach Brad Macleod-Henderson employs the same strategy, rewarding the team that so impressively beat the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld with just one injury-enforced change for Saturday’s match against the EP Kings in Durban.
Flank Jacques Botes is the only player to miss out on selection, with the veteran suffering from a sprained shoulder joint. His place in the number six jersey will be taken by Khaya Majola, a product of Westville Boys’ High and a member of the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship-winning SA U20 side.
It will be the 22-year-old’s first start after making his debut off the bench last weekend in Pretoria.
There are two changes to the bench with Springbok lock Stephan Lewies returning after an injury-enforced intermission, while scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman is also fully fit again and replaces Hanco Venter amongst the replacements.
Although the Kings are propping up the bottom of the log after seven straight defeats, Sharks forwards coach Paul Anthony is expecting a full-on onslaught from the visitors.
“EP Kings will be difficult because they have nothing to lose, they can play as they want, with some sort of freedom. There won’t be any pressure on them, so we need to settle down, focus and go hard at them. We have to play well and have a good game, we have to man up defensively and we just have to keep winning,” Anthony said.
A climb to second place in the standings is not totally out of the question for the Sharks: if the Lions slip up against Griquas in Kimberley and the KwaZulu-Natalians secure a big bonus-point victory against the Kings, then the rapid improvement in log position will continue for Macleod-Henderson and his team.
Team: 15-SP Marais, 14-S’bura Sithole, 13-Paul Jordaan, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Lionel Cronje, 9-Cameron Wright, 8-Tera Mtembu, 7-Etienne Oosthuizen, 6-Khaya Majola, 5-Marco Wentzel, 4-JC Astle, 3-Lourens Adriaanse, 2-Kyle Cooper, 1-Dale Chadwick. Replacements – 16-Franco Marais, 17-Danie Mienie, 18-Stephan Lewies, 19-Johan Meyer, 20-Conrad Hoffmann, 21-Tim Swiel, 22-Tonderai Chavhanga.