Ox back for the Boks

Jacques Nienaber has made five changes to the starting team from last week. Jessie Kriel replaces the injured and banned Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jaden Hendrikse starts and Herschel Jantjies for the concussed Faf de Klerk. Additionally Duane Vermeulen has demoted Jasper Wiese to the bench, Joseph Dweba starts in place of Bongi Mbonambi (out with a injury sustained in training), Malcolm Marx moves back to the bench and Ox Nche starts at loosehead for Trevor Nyakane who drops out of the squad.


Kurt-Lee starts against the All Blacks

Nienaber has made some minor changes to the Bok team that played against Wales in the third test. Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx swap starting positions with Jaden Hendrickse and Bongi Mbonambi. Kurt-Lee Arendse will replace the injured Cheslin Kolbe. Salmaan Moerat has been brought back in as lock cover.


Hendrikse starts for the Boks

Jaden Hendrikse has been elevated to start for the Boks next to Handre Pollard with Faf de Klerk playing from the bench. PSDT is back in his 7 jersey with Franco Mostert moving down to the bench. Inexplicably Ox has also been dropped for Trevor Nyakane who did not look very comfortable at scrum time (at tight head though).

The rest of the team and squad that played in the first test against Wales will return for the decider.


Brave selections by Nienaber

Often a brave decision is just a stupid decision that paid off regardless. Jacques Nienaber will know just after 7 pm on Saturday which it was.

I am very glad for guys like Andre Esterhuizen and Marcell Coetzee to get another chance in a Bok jersey. Likewise very stoked for Ntuthuko Mchunu and Grant Williams who may run out as Boks later in the game.


Willemse at 15 against Wales

Jacques Nienaber has selected Damian Willemse at 15 with Willie le Roux covering flyhalf and fullback from the bench. Elton Jantjies will run the show from flyhalf.

Stormers fans will be upset that Elrigh Louw has been selected instead of Evan Roos, but I assume the thinking is that Louw will be better cover for 7 with Kwagga for 6 and 8. The pressure will be on Jasper Wiese to show that he is the man to take over from Thor.


Bosch starts against WP

The Sharks have loaded the Currie Cup team with URC players to see if a last chance saloon win against WP can get the team into the Currie Cup semi-finals. Even a bonus point win against WP will only be enough should Pumas and Griquas draw the next game, or Griquas beat the Pumas, or the Pumas trounce the Griquas while denying them a bonus point and the Sharks winning score against WP combined with the Pumas winning score exceeds 61 points, or Pumas beat the Griquas by one point with no bonus point and the Sharks winning score exceeds 67 points.


Quarter-final Time

Sean Everitt has gone for continuity with only 1 change to the starting lineup (Le Roux Roets at 4 with Ruben van Heerden dropping to the bench). This week he is using a 5-3 bench split with Ben Tapui rejoining the squad.

The pundits are talking up the Bulls (and the Stormers): Matfield believes Bulls’ better coaching will trump Sharks’ star power in URC showdown. Mallett backs Bulls for URC title charge.

Bookies are currently giving odds of 1.53 for a Bulls win with the Sharks at 2.58.

It will certainly be a close game that the Sharks can win, but the team will need to make better decisions, cut down on mistakes and show absolutely 100% commitment from every player in the squad.


Team for the Lions

Even though the big Sharks game on Saturday is the URC quarter-final at 13:45, there will also be a Currie Cup game at Kings Park at 17:00. The Sharks will face a strong Lions team (free to use all of their URC players) with 5 uncapped players in the squad (including the two hookers).

With only 2 log points ahead of the Pumas the Sharks need to win this game (or hope the Cheetahs beat the Pumas by more than 7 and prevent them from scoring 4 tries).


Am and Ruben starts against Ulster

The Sharks will have play maker Lukhanyo Am back at outside center while hard working Ruben van Heerden starts in the number 4 jersey. Le Roux Roets who provides a lot of bulk and go forward to the Sharks pack is not in the mix – I can only assume he is out injured. Likewise fiery Gerbrand Grobler will also be missed.

I am worried that the Sharks will be rusty due to the bulk of the squad not playing rugby for 3 weeks. If the Sharks can pull of a win they will be guaranteed a home quarter final.