Super Rugby

Sharks' Notshe could battle 'role model' Vermeulen as SA rugby returns

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Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Gallo)
Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Gallo)
  • Sharks No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe says previous form will count for little when rugby resumes in South Africa this weekend.
  • Notshe could face off against Springbok World Cup winner Duane Vermeulen. 
  • The Sharks will take on the Bulls at Super Fan Saturday while the Stormers take on the Lions.

Rugby returns to South Africa this weekend for the first time in six months when Loftus Versfeld hosts 'Super Fan Saturday' - a unique event that will see all four of the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and Lions in action. 

In what is effectively a pre-season friendly with a return to competition scheduled for October 10, the Stormers will take on the Lions while the Bulls will host the Sharks. 

The anticipation amongst fans and players is understandably high given the long lay-off that was the result of the coronavirus pandemic, and while there will be no spectators allowed at Loftus on Saturday, the prospect of seeing the best players in the country in action again on television is a tantalising one. 

When Super Rugby was suspended towards the end of March, the Sharks were top of the combined log having played some dazzling rugby along the way. 

No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe was one of their form players having made the move to Durban from the Stormers, and he more than anybody was on his way towards another Springbok call-up. 

The national lockdown changed all that, but on Saturday Notshe will have an opportunity to pick up where he left off more than half a year ago. 

There will be intriguing match-ups in both matches on Saturday, but one of the tastier battles is the possibility of Notshe squaring off against Bulls No 8 and Springbok World Cup winner Duane Vermeulen

The starting line-ups for the weekend are only expected to be named on Thursday, but at a media opportunity on Tuesday, Notshe was asked about the possibility of facing off against Vermeulen, his former team-mate at the Stormers. 

"Obviously you want to play against the best," Notshe said. 

"When I joined the Stormers, Duane was the guy I learned from ... things like jumping and mauling.

"Going up against your role model, someone that taught you the ropes, I am looking forward to that. But the most important thing is to worry about my team and making sure that our systems perform."

On the Sharks being tipped as favourites heading into the combined Super Rugby/Currie Cup competition starting next month, Notshe was reluctant to get carried away. 

"We can't live in the past. We have to live in the present. It is a new clean slate for everyone, even myself," he said.  

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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