- Sharks coach Sean Everitt wants to be the last coach to win a game at Newlands.
- The Sharks-Western Province Currie Cup semi-final could be the last game at Newlands if the Bulls beat the Lions.
- Everitt says Western Province will still be strong despite Steven Kitshoff's absence.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt said they would love nothing more than being the last team to win a game at Newlands, but also realised it will be far easier said than done.
When the Sharks meet Western Province at Newlands in Saturday's second Currie Cup semi-final, it could be the last ever game played there, especially if the Bulls get the better of the Lions in the earlier game at Loftus Versfeld.
As the top team, the Bulls will host the final if they win. If they lose, anything goes as the Sharks and Western Province will have the added carrot of hosting the final.
"We did speak about the emotions that would be involved from Western Province's side and rightfully so. A stadium with that tradition holds a lot of respect for everyone, including the Sharks. We'd like nothing more to be the last team to win at Newlands, but we try to put the emotions aside because rugby has to be our focus with our second focus staying Covid-19 free," Everitt said.
"Should we win the semi-final, we need to have a full squad to pick from. Western Province will be desperate. They will be emotional but with good set-piece."
That side, Ali Vermaak is no slouch and Everitt has picked a fit-for-purpose pack with JJ van der Mescht starting at lock alongside Ruben van Heerden with Dylan Richardson, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Henco Venter completing the back row. Ox Nche and Fez Mbatha will start alongside Du Toit in the front row.
Everitt didn't feel that Western Province would be weakened by Kitshoff's absence.
"The set-piece battle is normally a unit but Kitshoff is one of the best looseheads in the world. He's fit. He's been playing exceptionally, and he's been pushing the time on the field. Ali Vermaak is a good player, but they still have Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, JD Schickerling and Salman Moerat. It remains a formidable tight five," Everitt said.
"No one is ever happy for someone who is sick, but there is no way they will be easier for us. They're still a threat and it's a unit effort from their side. Thomas has been out for quite a while. He had Covid-19 problems and before that, he was injured. It's good to have Thomas back to full fitness. We also felt that Fez went well at hooker against the Griquas and we felt there was a large improvement in our scrummaging. JJ put in one of his better, if not his best performance against the Griquas in the last game, so he earns his place."
Western Province and the Sharks haven't met this season due to Covid-19 issues, meaning they go into the game on the back of little rugby.
They were supposed to clash on 9 January, but the fact the teams have been on a break of the same length means no side is disadvantaged, according to Everitt.
"We would have loved a bit of continuity, but everyone is starting on level pegging because they were also not able to play. I think it's about how you train and the quality of your training. Every year, there's always going to be the first game of the season everyone worries about, but if Province were coming back from three or four games and we came from a break, it could have been a concern," Everitt said.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak
Substitutes (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Jaco Coetzee, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Ruhan Nel, 24 Sazi Sandi, 25 Tristan Leyds
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius
Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo
Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 JJ
van der Mescht, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Manie Libbok