Due to the Sharks crazy travel schedule (was this not supposed to be better than Super Rugby?) Neil Powell has decided to keep most of his first choice players at home to prepare for the home game against Bordeaux. The team that will face Connacht has a sprinkling of A level players like Ntuthuko Mchunu, Carlü Sadie, Henco Venter, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Grant Williams but also includes 3 debutantes on the bench as well as a number of players who has not played for a while.
Neil Powell has rested a number of players for the home game against the Lions – Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi, Ntuthuko Mchunu and Francois Venter. Siya Kolisi and Ben Tapuai will feature from the bench.
The Sharks will welcome back Lukhanyo Am for their away game against Bordeaux. Neil Powell has selected mostly the same starting team with Ntuthuko Mchunu in for Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit replacing Carlu Sadie (who drops out completely). Dian Bleuer and Hanro Jacobs will get another opportunity from the bench.
The Sharks need to improve on the good work from their last game, and focus on retaining the ball for longer as well as keeping their shape on attack after a number of phases. With the same back line selected we should expect to see an improvement in first phase moves as well.
Big guns Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi have been selected to face Harlequins in the Sharks’ first Champions Cup game. Vincent Tshituka moves back to blindside flank while Werner Kok is back on the wing.
The Sharks really need to focus on keeping the ball in contact (no point making meters with the ball just to cough it up at the final tackle / ruck) and finding some continuity on attack (players need to work a lot harder to get into positions after 2nd / 3rd phases).
The bookies have the Sharks as slight favourites. With the best rugby player in the world (regardless of what WR says) and the inspirational Bok captain on the field the Sharks may just have a decent chance of winning this one.
1. Ox Nche
2. Bongi Mbonambi
3. Carlu Sadie
4. Eben Etzebeth
5. Gerbrandt Grobler
6. Siya Kolisi (c)
7. Vincent Tshituka
8. Phepsi Buthelezi
9. Jaden Hendrikse
10. Curwin Bosch
11. Makazole Mapimpi
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Francois Venter
14. Werner Kok
15. Boeta Chamberlain
16. Dan Jooste
17. Ntuthuko Mchunu
18. Khutha Mchunu
19. Hyron Andrews
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
21. Grant Williams
22. Lionel Cronje
23. Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Neil Powell has drafted a number of Boks to assist the struggling Sharks as well as starting Curwin Bosch at 10 after months of layoff. Vincent Tshituka at 4 lock and Sikhumbuzo Noshe at 6 flank are interesting selections. Ben Tapuai will add some experience and direction to the back line.
The Sharks will also (on top of Mbonambi, Etzebeth, Kolisi, Hendrikse and Mapimpi) be missing Thomas du Toit, Ntuthuko Mchunu and Grant Williams due to Bok duties. James Venter will captain the team on Sunday with Rohan Janse van Rensburg (back from suspension) partnering Francois Venter in the midfield. Anthony Volmink runs from 15 in place of the injured Aphelele Fassi, while Lionel Cronje and Ben Tapuai are also back from injury.
Coach Nienaber has decided to revert back to Willemse (10), De Allende (12) and Kriel (13). This means Damian Willemse (55% success rate in 2022) and Faf de Klerk will have to take the place kicks until Manie Libbok comes on in the second half. A backline with Libbok, Willemse and De Allende (or even Libbok, De Allende and Willemse) would have made sure a decent place kicker plays most of the game, and will also be run much better from 10.
Andre Esterhuizen will start at 12 with Damian de Allende shifting to 13. Jasper Wiese is back at 8 with Franco Mostert moving to 7. Marvin Orie and Salmaan Moerat will be the starting locks with Eben Etzebeth moving to the bench. Evan Roos should get his second Bok cap later in the game.
Aphelele Fassi has sustained an ankle injury and will be out for 8 weeks. Gianni Lombard will start in the fullback jersey with Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu replacing Johan Goosen who will cover the backline along with Sanele Nohamba. Marco van Staden will provide more balance to the loose trio with Phepsi Buthelezi moving down to the bench. JJ Kotze and Mornay Smith should feature later in the second half.
Manie Libbok will likely feature later in the game against France with Damian Willemse retaining the 10 jersey. Rienaber has made a number of changes to the team that lost to Ireland. Franco Mostert slots in for the injured Lood de Jager with Marvin Orie moving onto the bench. Willie le Roux starts in the 15 jersey with Cheslin Kolbe moving back to 14, and Kurt-Lee Arendse moves over to 11. Faf de Klerk starts with Cobus Reinach on the bench. Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi swap jerseys with Steven Kitshoff and Malcolm Marx.