Sharks XV coach Sean Everitt has named a powerful side for the second-round Vodacom Cup clash against Free State, to be played in the bustling metropolis of Petrusburg.
Continuity is the name of the game amongst the backs, with an unchanged lineup named this week. Halfbacks Charl MacLeod and Len Olivier will dictate matters, while Andries Strauss captains the side from inside centre. Sevens Bok Ian Adendorff will wear the number 13, with Chris Jordaan and Lwazi Mvovo adding the speed out wide. Monty Dumond completes the back division in his somewhat new position of fullback and will look to build on some devastating form last week, particularly with the boot.
There have been a number of changes in the pack, though. Barra Mthethwa comes in at loosehead prop for Dave Hawksworth, while Craig Burden is over his bout of flu and takes his place at hooker. Wiehahn Herbst, who represented South Africa at junior level in both 2007 and 2008, continues at tight head. Nolan Clarke is joined in the second row this week by young Jandre Marais, who joined the Sharks U21s last year after representing the Griffons at junior level. Marais is just about exactly the same size as Steven Sykes and should fit the mould of “enforcer” lock just about perfectly. There is no sign of Joe Snyman this week.
Justin Downey’s call-up to the Sharks tour has forced a reshuffle in the back row. Out goes Nik Blignaut, while the exciting (and very BIG) Mike Rhodes comes in at blindside flank. Former young Lion Nick Claasen comes up into the starting side and will wear the number 6 jersey vacated by Downey, while Warren Whiteley continues at the back of the scrum.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve solved the riddle of the “missing prop” on the Sharks XV bench. It seems that Sabs Nhlapo, who played all the way through the ranks at lock, is in the process of converting to loose head and he provides front row cover, along with Frik Venter (who I believe is Saracens bound). Luvo Lusaseni and Nqubeko Zulu are both new faces on the bench this week, covering lock and loose forward respectively.
Sharks XV: 15 Monty Dumond; 14 Chris Jordaan, 13 Ian Adendorff, 12 Andries Strauss (capt), 11 Lwazi Mvovo; 10 Len Olivier, 9 Charl McLeod; 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Nick Claasen, 5 Nolan Clark, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Barra Mthethwa.
Reserves: 16 Frik Venter, 17 Sabelo Nhlapo,18 Luvuyiso Lusaseni , 19 Nqubeko Zulu, 20 Neil de Bruin, 21 Andrew Borgen, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.