‘Tank’ muscle for Sharks

2014-10-02 00:00

THE Sharks pack have been beefed up by the return of prop Thomas “The Tank Engine” du Toit this week as they prepare to host the Lions at King’s Park tomorrow night.

Sharks veteran Jacques Botes and Stephan Lewies are the only other changes to the Sharks starting lineup from last week’s 53-24 win over the Kings.

Their inclusion sees Khaya Majola and JC Astle move to the bench.

The return of the front rower is a boon as Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson is expecting an onslaught from the Lions pack.

“They’ve got a strong pack of forwards, a good scrum and a good maul. They like to play rugby, they like to keep the ball, put it through phases and out pressure on you defensively so we know we have to be strong up front,” the coach said.

Du Toit, who is only 19 years old, has impressed in every facet of play this season. His work in the set piece has been dominant and he carries the ball strongly on attack. His return will be crucial as the Sharks look to contend with a very strong Lions pack.

The Durban side are still waiting on hooker Kyle Cooper who is carrying a knee niggle. Should he not be fit, Monde Hadebe will take his place in the starting line- up while prop Matt Stevens also returns from injury and will provide cover off the bench.

There is an air of confidence in the Sharks camp despite this week’s bombshell of Jake White’s departure.

“We’ve played nicely pretty much the last two and a half games, we’ve been very comfortable with our performances. The second half against the Cheetahs we played some great stuff, pretty much the whole games against the Bulls we were happy with and obviously the game against EP,” Macleod-Henderson said.

“We know it’s a different challenge. The Lions are one of the front runners and they have set the Currie Cup alight from the first round,” he said.

“Every week you worry about the win first before you worry about bonus points. It may be a cliché but it is true,” he said.

Alongside their quest for a home semi-final is that fact that if they fail, this weekend’s clash will be Botes’s last at home. The veteran flank is also expecting a battle in the tight.

“We are expecting a really tough match from the Lions; it’s going to be interesting to see the result at the end of the day. They have a nice blend of attacking and being physical so it’s always a challenge to play against them,” he said.

The Sharks host the Lions at King’s Park on Friday night, kick-off is at 7.10 pm.

Sharks team (15-1): SP Marais, S’bura Sithole, Paul Jordaan, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Lionel Cronje, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu (c), Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques Botes, Marco Wentzel, Stephan Lewies, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper / Monde Hadebe, Thomas du Toit.

Replacements: Monde Hadebe/Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick, Matt Stevens, JC Astle, Khaya Majola, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga.

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