Sharks Super Rugby head coach Robert du Preez has named a team with one change for this Saturday’s match against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Jacques Vermeulen has come in for Philip van der Walt who took a blow to the face against the Highlanders and isn’t available this week.
There is one more change – amongst the reserves – where Chiliboy Ralepelle, who is playing his 100th Super Rugby game, comes in for Franco Marais on the bench.
Chiliboy had played on 69 occasions for the Bulls and will be playing his 31st match for the Sharks.
The Sharks come into this match against the Bulls with a measure of confidence, having beaten the Stormers and Highlanders either side of our second bye, and will be looking to make it three in a row.
“One of the main things that we’ve seen since the loss to the Bulls before that Stormers game is that we haven’t been making as many errors and our set-piece is functioning a lot better,” explains Sharks eighthman Daniel du Preez.
“The boys are starting to play well together and the forwards are finding momentum which obviously plays a big role.
“We are also really starting to build some consistency in our game and that’s giving us momentum.”
Talking forwards, he acknowledges that the game is going to be won and lost upfront.
“The set-piece battle is going to be huge and a big decider on which way the game goes.”
This game has a plenty riding on it, not only from a Conference point of view, but for the Sharks to continue a good run of form (in terms of play and results), while theBulls will want to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to the Stormers.
“This is going to be a huge battle, South African derbies are never easy, there will be a lot of emotion,” he said.
“The guys remember the game against the Bulls a few weeks ago and I think the Bulls will be hurting from last week.
“If you win the physical battle, then half the war is won. It’s something we work hard on every week and something we pride ourselves on.
“But it’s also important that we show patience, get the ball through the phases and if we can do, we’ll definitely get the reward.”
Last week’s man of the match, Andre Esterhuizen will be playing his 50th Super Rugby game for the Sharks.
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo