Auckland - Sharks coach Robert du Preez has named his team for Saturday’s Super Rugby encounter against the Blues at Eden Park (kick-off 08:35 SA time).
Du Preez made just two changes to the starting team that lost 46-14 to the Rebels in Melbourne last weekend.
In the backline, Andre Esterhuizen has returned to full fitness and replaces Marius Louw at inside centre, with the latter dropping down to the bench.
Up front, flank Philip van der Walt - who flew over to replace the injured Wian Vosloo - has come in for the suspended Jacques Vermeulen.
Tyler Paul, who replaces Vosloo amongst the replacements, is the final change to the match-day 23.
“We’re fortunate to have a guy like Philip back and ready to play, he brings a lot of experience and leadership,” Du Preez told the Sharks’ official website.
Although the results haven’t gone the Sharks’ way on tour, the coach explained from the team’s camp in Auckland that there was nothing negative within the team environment.
“There are no issues in the team, nothing sinister; we’ve lost two games and this happens and it’s not the first time a touring team has lost two games,” he pointed out. “In saying that, it’s obviously very disappointing for us, we’ve worked incredibly hard, the team and the coaches.
“There was no faulting the effort against the Rebels, although the accuracy and the execution was there and it’s something we’ve been working on. The Rebels played good rugby, it must be admitted.
“The boys are very disappointed and frustrated because they know they’re letting the fans and themselves down. But we have to keep on working harder, that starts with us coaches because we’re all in this together. We’re not pointing fingers, we have to fix this, together I know we will.”
15 Michael Collins, 14 Jordan Trainor, 13 George Moala, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane
Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11
Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7
Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha
(captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk