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Ken Borland

Sharks go into rematch against Stormers with someone more ‘adult’ at flyhalf

Posted on February 28, 2022 by Ken

Coach Sean Everitt was at pains on Thursday not to criticise his team’s game-management after they let slip a handy lead in their previous game against the Stormers, but the Sharks will go into Saturday’s United Rugby Championship rematch in Cape Town with someone a bit more ‘adult’ pulling the strings at flyhalf in Tito Bonilla.

The 32-year-old Bonilla, who has played four Tests for Argentina and was the Jaguares first-choice flyhalf when they reached the Super Rugby final in 2019, replaces 22-year-old Boeta Chamberlain at pivot as the Sharks look to go one better than their 22-22 draw with the Stormers last weekend, after leading 19-3 with half-an-hour to go in Durban.

Bonilla has also played for high-profile clubs in Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers.

“Tito has been on the bench for a number of games and hasn’t got the time for an extended run,” Everitt said after announcing his team. “He hasn’t really got the time he would have wanted on the field.

“He’s an international and will bring calm and composure. He likes to direct things on the field, he can guide the team around really well.

“Our draw did not have too much to do with game-management, we played in the right areas but our accuracy and discipline let us down. It’s always tough if you’re giving away yellow cards.

“We knew if we gave the Stormers back three space to run at us, then we would be in trouble,” Everitt said.

The Sharks squad are certainly treated like adults in a player-driven environment, and Everitt expects those discipline issues to be sorted come Saturday.

“The game of rugby starts with discipline and you can’t win if you concede four yellow cards and two penalty tries. They were individual things, we’ve certainly spoken about it and addressed it.

“We will be better on Saturday. Our discipline has actually been very good in the Currie Cup and URC, we are below average in conceding penalties. Against the Stormers we conceded 14 penalties to their 16.

“So it’s not a chronic problem for us and it’s not due to our relaxed approach. The players do work extremely hard and Bongi Mbonambi drives the discipline side. The coaches set the rules and standards,” Everitt said.

There is also a change at scrumhalf for Saturday, with Jaden Hendrikse starting in place of Grant Williams. But the livewire Williams has certainly not been thrown to the dogs, Everitt saying he played really well last weekend and he foresees his No.9s rotating through the season.

Inside centre Ben Tapuai is currently troubled by a knee injury and captain Lukhanyo Am will shift to No.12, where he was man of the match against the Bulls in December, with Jeremy Ward coming in at outside centre.

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Jeremy Ward, Lukhanyo Am (c), Makazole Mapimpi, Tito Bonilla, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jeandre Labuschagne, Siya Kolisi, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit (v/c), Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Replacements – Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Gerbrandt Grobler, Henco Venter, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Werner Kok.

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