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Ken Borland

Sharks decline option to play more upmarket team, leave Boks in Durban

Posted on November 30, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks have turned down the option to play a more ‘upmarket’ team and include their returning Springboks in their United Rugby Championship visit to Newport to take on the Dragons on Saturday, instead deciding to leave them in Durban until after their tour is over.

While the Bulls and Stormers are fielding some of the Springboks who were involved in the Rugby Championship, Sharks coach Sean Everitt has made just two injury-enforced changes to the team that opened their campaign with a narrow (in the end) win over Zebre in Parma.

Lock Gerbrandt Grobler injured his bicep in training this week and will be replaced by new signing Justin Basson, with Hyron Andrews moving on to the bench.

And replacement flyhalf Fred Zeilinga has also returned home injured, with Anthony Volmink replacing him amongst the substitutes.

“The Springboks have been given a week off and will integrate themselves back into training next week in Durban,” Everitt said on Thursday. “If we need to call in some of them due to injuries for next week against Leinster, then we will.

“But I would prefer them to get up to date with what we were doing in pre-season and what we have implemented since then. It’s a bit different for us because of the number of Springboks we have.

“Fortunately they are all guys who prepare well. But they did miss part of pre-season and they need to get up to speed. They’re all quality players and we will need to introduce them for a couple of games in October.

“But for now we are leaving them in Durban to prepare for the clash with Glasgow back at home on October 15,” Everitt explained.

Having upset Munster in Newport last weekend, the Dragons are shopping for their second successive home win, having begun the season with a fearful 44-6 hammering away to Edinburgh.

What the Sharks want is a repeat of their first 40 minutes against Zebre last weekend, when they were impressively efficient in garnering a 28-3 lead. They lost focus in the second half though, and had to hang on desperately for a 42-37 triumph.

“The first half was the best rugby we’ve played for a long time and I was very happy with that,” Everitt said. “But in the second half we allowed them to get momentum.

“Zebre and the Dragons are both dangerous out wide and we struggled with our width in defence and allowed them quick ball at the breakdowns.

“Plus we never stuck to our kicking plan. So really we put ourselves under the pump. Having conceded only three penalties in the first half, not many at all, we then gave away seven in the second half when we were feeling the pressure. But those things are all fixable,” Everitt said.

Sharks team: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Ben Tapuai, Thaakir Abrahams, Boeta Chamberlain, Grant Williams, Phepsi Buthelezi, Dylan Richardson, James Venter, Reniel Hugo, Justin Basson, Thomas du Toit (c), Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. BenchDan Jooste, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cameron Wright, Marnus Potgieter, Anthony Volmink.

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