The Sharks' cause will be aided by the inclusion of Willem Alberts, while the Stormers' will be hurt by the absence of Schalk Burger, writes JON CARDINELLI.
In 2014, Alberts has been used at blindside flank, lock, and most recently No 8. Regardless of his position, he has lent the Sharks go-forward on attack, and has been a destructive force on defence.
Alberts was one of the standout players on the recent tour to Australasia, particularly in the fourth match against the Blues where his defence helped the Sharks secure a gutsy and statement-making victory. The Sharks are in a strong position at the top of the log because of the consistency of men like Alberts.
They need to maintain that intensity for one final game before the Vodacom Super Rugby competition breaks for the June Tests. It will be no easy task given that they have only recently returned from a draining tour Down Under. However, it will encourage them to know that the Stormers are missing a heavy hitter and talisman in Schalk Burger.
Burger was injured in the first half of last week's game against the Cheetahs. Both he and captain Jean de Villiers will miss the match against the Sharks, which means the Stormers will be without two of their most important players with regards to physicality and leadership.
The Stormers forwards impressed in the game against the Cheetahs, but will be underdogs in the coming match at Kings Park. The Sharks pack is stacked with Springboks, and if men like Alberts build up some momentum, it could be a long evening for the visitors.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: 21, Sharks 11, Stormers 10
In Durban: Sharks 7, Stormers 4
*Includes Natal and Western Province
ALBERTS' STATS THAT MATTER
19 – The number of tackles he made against the Blues (Rank 3 in Round 15)
13 – The number of games he's started for the Sharks in 2014 (all of them)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Heimar Williams.
Stormers – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Manuel Carizza, 21 Dylon Frylinck, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Peter Grant.
Photo: Sabelo Mngoma/BackpagePix