Beast set for a rest

Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has confirmed that Willie le Roux will miss Friday’s clash with the Sunwolves due to injury, while captain Beast Mtawarira will be rested, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Le Roux sustained a shoulder injury in the Springboks’ final Test against Ireland and is now set to miss his third successive Super Rugby game, which in turn will provide another opportunity for talented youngster Rhyno Smith at No 15.

Mtawarira has carried a considerable workload for the Sharks and Boks this season, and the decision to afford him a break this weekend provides an opportunity for Thomas du Toit to start, while JP Pietersen will interestingly take over the captaincy.

First-choice skipper Pat Lambie has still been showing some concussion symptoms this week, and has been bracketed on the bench, with the Sharks hoping he will pass cognitive tests ahead of the clash t.

Lock Stephan Lewies and Jean-Luc du Preez have also been struggling with an injury niggle and concussion respectively, but Gold said he was confident there was enough squad strength to clinch a winning result on Friday that would secure a playoff berth.

‘We need to get the balance right with our selections. We’ve got to trust the squad to do the job, and I genuinely believe that if players need to step up in the absence of others, they’ll be ready to perform.’

The Sharks currently occupy the wildcard quarter-final berth, and besides making sure of their progression to the knockout stage, Gold said they were still searching for that complete performance.

‘We were poor against the Lions, although there were a few good signs in the second half, as was the case against the Cheetahs [last Saturday]. But now we need to produce a performance where our execution is spot on. Teams have often had to work hard for their points against the Sunwolves, and so we’re taking this game seriously. We need a good performance that gives us confidence and belief that our combinations and plans are working as we hopefully head into a quarter-final.’

Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis