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Ken Borland

Siya and Bongi missing, but Sharks will still bring 6 Boks and a Wallaby to Ellis Park

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Ken

Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi will be missing, but the Sharks will still bring six current Springboks and a Wallaby to Ellis Park for their United Rugby Championship match against the Lions on Saturday.

Coach Sean Everitt, in announcing his team on Thursday, revealed that loose forward Kolisi and hooker Mbonambi have been given more time to recover from their exploits for the Springboks at the end of last year.

“Siya and Bongi were not considered for selection because we gave them an extended break in December and they are still in their pre-season training. We thought they’d be better off with one more week of training.

“The rest of the guys returned to training on December 27 and it has been tough for them, working really hard in tough conditions, we’ve had our traditional January/February weather in Durban,” Everitt said.

But the presence of props Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit gives the Sharks a powerful front row and the backline is star-studded with captain Lukhanyo Am at centre, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi on the wings and Aphelele Fassi at fullback.

Partnering Am in midfield will be Ben Tapuai, who will be making his Sharks debut and has seven Test caps for Australia and previously played for Harlequins in the English Premiership.

“Ben was going to start against the Bulls on December 3 but Covid protocols meant he was not able to play,” Everitt said. “He’s a skilful player with a left boot like Andre Esterhuizen.

“He brings an added dimension at inside centre, especially with his confident communication among the backs. We were looking for experience at 12 because our flyhalves are young.

“Grant Williams, Sanele Nohamba and Jaden Hendrikse, our first-choice scrumhalves, are also very young.

“Ben’s different skillset will allow us to play a little differently,” Everitt said.

Openside flank Dylan Richardson, who is now eligible to play in the Six Nations for Scotland, is currently out injured as he recovers from a stress fracture in his leg. James Venter will start in the No.6 jersey with other young talents in Jeandre Labuschagne and Phepsi Buthelezi completing the loose trio.

They will be busy as the Sharks expect an open, running game starting at 3pm at Ellis Park.

Sharks team: Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am (c), Ben Tapuai, Makazole Mapimpi, Boeta Chamberlain, Grant Williams, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jeandre Labuschagne, James Venter, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit (v/c), Kerron van Vuuren, Ox Nche. Replacements – Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Reniel Hugo, Henco Venter, Jaden Hendrikse, Tito Bonilla, Jeremy Ward.

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