Am, Springboks return for Sharks

Durban - The Sharks will close out the pool stages of this year’s Currie Cup competition when we host Western Province at Kings Park on Saturday afternoon.

With home ground advantage for next weekend’s semi-final already all sewn up, the Sharks don’t need a result to maintain their status as log leaders.

Western Province come into the match having suffered an unexpected 29-20 defeat to the Golden Lions last week which has put into jeopardy not only hosting a semi-final as runners-up in the pool stages, but the possibility that a loss could knock them out of the playoffs completely.

Sharks coach Robert du Preez is not taking this match lightly, having selected his strongest possible side.

Lukhanyo Am returns from injury to take his place at centre, with Tristan Blewett shifting to the bench, in the only change to the team that defeated the Lions two weeks ago.

On the bench, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Jean-Luc du Preez return from Springbok commitments, while Louis Schreuder is back after missing the Lions match due to a family reasons and Kobus van Wyk is over the injury that sidelined him.

“The last thing you want to do is go into a semi-final having lost the last game, but for us, winning isn’t all we’re focusing on, but rather getting better from two weeks ago when we played the Lions,” said wing Odwa Ndungane.

“We want to make sure we keep improving. We already have a guaranteed home semi-final, so there isn’t any pressure on us this weekend, but we want to go out and play well, to keep improving.”

Kick-off is at 15:00.

Teams:

Sharks

15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 S'bu Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Tristan Blewett, 22 Kobus van Wyk

Western Province

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Ruhan Nel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg

Substitutes: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Werner Kok, 22 EW Viljoen