The Sharks are expected to field close to a full-strength team for their final warm-up game against the Vodacom Bulls this Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
This past weekend, coach Robert du Preez opted to field a youthful side against the Lions at the Cape Town Stadium, with the Sharks slipping to a 19-14 defeat.
Rising talents such as Kerron van Vuuren and Khutha Mchunu earned starts on Sunday, while a number of youngsters enjoyed game time off the bench, with powerful forward JJ van der Mescht certainly catching the eye.
The Sharks have only recently welcomed back a contingent of six players who took up off-season stints overseas, but most are now set to filter back into action this weekend after being rested for the clash against the Lions.
Du Preez explained that they would look to field a strong side in their final pre-season outing.
‘We’ll use a squad of 30 players [against the Bulls], and we want to give the bulk of the game time to those players who will be travelling to play the Sunwolves [in the Sharks’ season-opener]. So it will be an opportunity for the likes of André [Esterhuizen], Rob [du Preez], Coenie [Oosthuizen], Ruan [Botha] and Beast [Mtawarira] to feature.’
It also remains to be seen whether Thomas du Toit will be cleared to play after having to pull out from the Lions game due to an ankle injury.
Makazole Mapimpi pulled up with a tight hamstring on Sunday, so he is one player who might be rested for this Saturday’s clash against the Bulls in Ballito, north of Durban.
Du Preez said he was satisfied with the Sharks’ pre-season preparation so far.
‘All in all, I was quite pleased with the way the first hit-out went,’ he commented after the Lions game. ‘There were 11 youngsters who played for the Sharks for the first time, and that was good to give them some exposure and confidence. We created a lot of opportunities, and I thought our set-pieces were generally pretty good.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images