Andre Esterhuizen, who missed out on the Sharks under 21s last match (an ugly loss to the Lions at Ellis Park) will again wear the number 12 jersey tomorrow, as his team take on Free State at Kings Park.
Having lost ground on the log due to a string of sub-par performance, the highly-rated Sharks side simply has to win tomorrow in order to remain in contention for the title and with Esterhuizen now back, can have no excuses about being under-strength this week. Coach Etienne Fynn has read the riot act to his players and none should be under any illusion regarding the level of tolerance for another performance like the one dished up in Johannesburg a fortnight ago.
Zimbabwean Gareth Meikle drops to the wood this week, giving up the jersey to Esterhuizen (the tournament’s leading try scorer). Unlucky Mike Bernardt drops out of the 22 as a result. Also gone this week are reserve hooker Jacques Taylor (replaced by Greg Bauer) and reserve flanker Murray Bondesio. The latter was one of two fetchers on the bench against the Lions, but makes way for a more conventional second-row replacement in Wade Elliott, back from injury this week.
The match kicks off at 12h30 on Saturday.
15 Sean Robinson, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Tyler Fisher, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Alcino Isaacs, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Franco Marais (capt), 1 Allan Dell
Subs: 16 Greg Bauer, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 Wade Elliot , 19 Dylan Nel, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Duncan Campbell, 22 Gareth Meikle