Steve Meyer returns to the scene of his last Currie Cup appearance for the Sharks, hoping to return with a far better result than the 1-point loss suffered by Dick Muir’s team when they visited Kimberley five years ago. The 26-year-old flyhalf has put the memories of that day behind him, as his career has eventually brought him back to Durban, via Perpignan in the south-west of France.
“We just need to go out there and give them a hell of a hiding,” reckons Meyer, when asked about the irony of his first Sharks start after returning to the side. It may not be quite that easy, though, as the Sharks have been dealt several hammer-blows that have all but decimated the pack that ruled supreme in the latter stages of the Super 14. Pat Cilliers and Wiehahn Herbst will start at prop, with former Griquas man Eugene van Staden poised for a maiden Sharks cap off the bench. Craig Burden starts at hooker in the absence of both Bismarck du Plessis (injured) and John Smit (with the Boks), with under 21 player Kyle Cooper his deputy. A third debutant, Anton Bresler, will wear the number 18 jersey, behind the established second-row pairing of Steven Sykes and Alistair Hargreaves.
Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts are both out injured, meaning that Mike Rhodes will add to his handful of Currie Cup caps as he starts at blindside flank. Keegan Daniel takes over at number 8, arguably his best position, with Jacques Botes continuing at openside. Skholiwe Ndlovu is a surprising pick on the bench ahead of former schoolmate Justin Downey.
The backline is far more similar to the unit that started the final Super 14 game, with Rory Kockott at scrumhalf and Riaan Swanepoel and Stefan Terblanche in the centres. The latter will captain the side. Lwazi Mvovo is at left wing, with Louis Ludik coming in for the injured Odwa Ndungane on the other side. Patrick Lambie, leading point-scorer at the recent IRB Junior World Championship, continues at fullback.
Squad regulars Charl McLeod, Monty Dumond and Andries Strauss complete the reserve contingent.
15 Lambie, 14 Ludik*, 13 Terblanche (captain), 12 Swanepoel, 11 Mvovo, 10 Meyer, 9 Kockott, 8 Daniel, 7 Rhodes, 6 Botes, 5 Hargreaves, 4 Sykes, 3 Herbst, 2 Burden, 1 Cilliers.
16 Cooper*, 17 van Staden*, 18 Bresler*, 19 Ndlovu, 20 McLeod, 21 Dumond, 22 Strauss
* denotes Sharks debut