Johannesburg – The Sharks have opted to concentrate on player welfare when they host the Emirates Lions in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Friday at Hollywoodbets Kings Park (kick-off 5pm).
The matchday 23 selected by director of rugby Neil Powell is certainly not the Sharks’ most powerful unit. It has been a testing month for the Sharks and, moreover, the rigours of the URC and Heineken Champions Cup in the coming weeks will be a taxing period.
It is, therefore, understandable, and not completely unwarranted, that Powell would do his best to rotate his squad to keep as many of his players fit and injury-free as they navigate the coming months. Nevertheless, such is the depth of the Durban-based side that the team that will face the Lions is sprinkled with quality throughout.
That includes illustrious names such as Springbok prop Thomas du Toit, and national teammates Grant Williams, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am in the backline. Bok skipper Siya Kolisi, meanwhile, along with Jaden Hendrikse, will add some spark and Test-match experience from the bench.
Our starting XV team sees a new midfield pairing of Lukhanyo and Rohan 🙌
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) December 22, 2022
Tighthead Carlu Sadie has put in some monstrous shifts in recent weeks and will be expected to scrum his former team into submission come matchday. He will be joined in the pack by the explosive Vincent Tshituka – also formerly of the Lions, and who returns to the unfamiliar position of No 4 lock, and a powerful and mobile loose-forward unit that consists of Bok Sikhumbuzo Notshe and the irrepressible Phepsi Buthelezi, who will captain the side.
Curwin Bosch, who has enjoyed a revival of sorts in his form, will once again marshal the backline, and can call on the wrecking ball that is Rohan Janse van Rensburg – another former Lions man – and the absolutely brilliant Lukhanyo Am, who will make his first start of the season in the URC.
Sharks starting XV: 15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (capt), 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Vincent Tshituka, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Ben Tapuai