Sharks coach Sean Everitt is wary of the danger that is posed by the Lions’ “old guys” Willem Albert and Jannie du Plessis but he is confident that his rejigged forward pack will be able to contain them this weekend.
The Sharks and Lions, who both coming from big wins, are set to meet in the Carling Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park Stadium in Egoli on Saturday at 7 pm.
Last weekend, the Lions defeated the Cheetahs by 39-23 in Bloemfontein while the Durbanites humbled the Bulls with 32-29 defeats in the coastal city.
After the Griquas v Bulls game was cancelled because of Covid-19 cases, the Sharks will be expected to push hard for a win against the Lions to strengthen their chances of finishing the round-robin at the summit of the competition.
A top place finish in the Currie Cup guarantees one a home semi-final and the final, that’s if the top team reaches the climax of the tournament. The Sharks also had their Covid-19 problems ahead of the game though they didn’t force the cancellation of the game, Everitt was compelled to make changes to his forward pack.
“Dan Jooste and Ruben [van Heerden] are out because of Covid-19 protocols and Thomas [du Toit’s] rib injury that he sustained in the game against the Bulls hasn’t healed so he will be missing out on this game.
“Hyron [Andrews] had a family bereavement and he has gone home,” said Everitt.
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“It’s always going to be a disruption if you lose players like that. Ruben was playing really good rugby as well as Hyron and obviously Thomas.
“I really thought Dan was outstanding last Saturday, so ja it’s a bit disrupting but fact that the guys that are coming to replace them, I’m talking about guys like JJ [van der Mescht] has had game time at four and at seven for us and that quite smooth for us,” he said.
“Obviously, we know that Kerron [van Vuuren)]is in and Michael Kumbirai did well in the latter stages of the game against the Bulls.
“We would like for those guys to play but it’s an opportunity for the other guys to come through.”
The forced changes will see Sharks new lock Aston Fortuin earning his debut since arriving from the liquidated Southern Kings.
“It’s an exciting for young Aston Fortuin to get an opportunity. We did bring him as a backup for Hyron, it’s really great that he gets the opportunity,” said Everitt.
Last week, 38-year-old Du Plessis and 36-year-old Albert delivered excellent performances to help the Lions beat Cheetahs and they will be expected to use their experience to outclass the Sharks on Saturday.
“Those old guys, Jannie scored a great try at the weekend and I thought Willem played his best game in the Lions jersey for some time. Yes, they are on fire at the moment.”
SHARKS: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (capt), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche. Substitutes: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John Hubert-Meyer, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 James Venter, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Jeremy Ward.
LIONS: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (capt), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka/Wilhelm van der Sluys, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole/Dylan Smith. Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Jamba Ulengo.
Pumas v Cheetahs — 7 pm
Griquas v Bulls — Cancelled
Lions v Sharks — 7 pm
HOW THEY STAND