Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has largely kept faith with the same team that lost to the Lions last weekend for Saturday’s vital SuperRugby clash with the Bulls at Kings Park, calling them a special group of players.
Although the Sharks desperately need a change in fortunes to resuscitate their season, the only changes Gold has made are the returns of Springbok veterans Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira to the front row.
“It’s nice to be able to strengthen our front row because it will be a very tough game up front, but I’m really happy with this team and I’m massively optimistic that if we replicate the effort of last week and rectify a couple of system errors, then we can get the result because this is a special group of players and they are hurting as much as we are,” Gold said after announcing his team in Durban on Thursday.
Gold acknowledged that the defence, which has enjoyed a strong heritage in recent Sharks teams, has been woefully lacking this season.
“We should be proud of our defence, but I’m not happy with it at all, it’s not nearly been good enough and it didn’t improve at all against the Lions. There were system errors, which was very disappointing, and, as the coaching staff, we all take responsibility for that.
“We neglected spending time on that out in the middle, the players didn’t do it over and over again enough, because they were a great defensive unit last year. I guess we have to be like the golfer who hits thousands of seven-irons in practice even though that’s his strength. But I have a lot of faith in this special group of players and I believe we can fix it,” Gold said.
Team: Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, Waylon Murray, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Fred Zeilinga, Cobus Reinach, Renaldo Bothma, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Marco Wentzel, Mouritz Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Franco Marais, Tendai Mtawarira. Bench – Monde Hadebe, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Etienne Oosthuizen, Conrad Hoffmann, Lionel Cronje, SP Marais.