Of all the returning players bolstering the Sharks this week, it will be the loose forward duo of Ryan Kankowski and Jean Deysel that make the biggest impact and ultimately result in a comfortable victory for the Sharks.
The backline will be more fluid and should hopefully be defensively sound this week. Thank Brad Barritt’s return to the number 12 jersey for that. Flyhalf will still be a bit of a problem and I for one hope that Michalak doesn’t get passed fit, so that we can start to build some continuity with Ruan Pienaar in that position. Chris Jordaan has taken his chances well, to the extent that he retains the right wing jersey, with returning Bok Odwa Ndungane replacing Henno Mentz on the left.
The tight five is strong as always, although BJ Botha is still out. Albert van den Berg will start with Steven Sykes on the bench. It’s a bit of a strange call, but it should work. du Plessis will have his hands full with Heinke van der Merwe, but with this combination, the Sharks should be able to hold their own at scrum time. Beast Mtawarira will look to make a huge impact coming on from the bench.
It’s in the back row, though, that the real improvement should come. Deysel has the perfect blend of size and speed to complement the tireless Jacques Botes and the mercurial Ryan Kankowski. Keegan Daniel will come on as an impact player this week and inject his particular blend of dynamism as the opposition legs start to tire.
The Sharks really need this one. They have a tricky trip to Kimberley coming up next and a home loss to the Lions would put their already faltering campaign firmly on the skids. Let’s hope the injection of experience turns the table this week.Tweet