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JP to captain Sharks against Sunwolves

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Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold has named a team with six changes for this Friday’s Super Rugby match against the Sunwolves in Durban.

Gold has rested Tendai Mtawarira and brought in Thomas du Toit at loosehead in the front row where Mahlatse “Chilliboy” Ralepelle starts at hooker.

JP Pietersen will captain the side in Mtawarira’s absence at outside centre.

Also in the forwards Ruan Botha replaced Stephan Lewies who is named on the replacements bench while Tera Mthembu comes in at flank for Jean-Luc du Preez.

In the backline Willie le Roux will sit out this week again due to injury while Odwa Ndungane starts on the wing and Sibusiso Sithole drops out of the squad entirely.

Gold said that he is “optimistic that he (Willie le Roux) will be available next week.”

Patrick Lambie has also been named on the replacements bench but bracketed with Curwin Bosch.

Stefan Ungerer gets the nod at scrum-half after his showing last week against the Cheetahs. Michael Claasens is rotated to the replacements.

“Hopefully Pat will be back sooner rather than later but you can’t mess around with concussion and we certainly won’t. But there are definite signs of improvement,” said Gold on the Sharks site.

“We’ve given Beast a rest, he played every Test match, and we have every confidence in guys like Thomas du Toit and Dale Chadwick. It’s about getting the balance right: there’s not point in pushing a guy to the limit this week if he’s not going to be available next week. ”

“And in trying to get the balance right, the last two weeks’ selections have been difficult. You want to perform well but you don’t necessarily want to pick a new-look team where everyone feels like he has to start from scratch.”

Gold is expecting the Sunwolves to throw everything into this match.

“They’re physical guys, upfront they’re pretty tough and they’ve never really given up in any game this year, so for them to finish on a high, there’s not question that they will give their all.”

Sharks

15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit

Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stefan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch/Pat Lambie, 23 Heimar Williams

The Sharks are currently 25/1 to win the Super Rugby title.

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