Former Vodacom Bulls and Kings lock Aston Fortuin will make his debut for the Sharks against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
After beating the high-riding Bulls at Kings Park last weekend and maintaining a 100% success rate at home for 2020, the Sharks will travel to Ellis Park for the first of two successive away games.
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has kept an unchanged backline from the team that beat the Bulls, but has tweaked his team’s pack for Saturday’s clash.
Kerron van Vuuren is back starting at hooker after coming off the bench last weekend, while Dan Jooste is left out of the starting lineup entirely, with U21 captain Fez Mbatha providing cover on the bench.
Springbok tighthead prop Thomas du Toit has been ruled out of Saturday’s match after sustaining a rib injury last weekend. His place in the starting lineup is taken by Michael Kumbirai, who replaced Du Toit in the early stages of the second half last weekend and looked impressive. The fit-again John Hubert-Meyer is on the bench.
There is also a new-look lock combination as JJ van der Mescht starts alongside Fortuin, who will be making his first appearance for the Sharks. The 114kg Fortuin has turned out for the Bulls and Southern Kings and was recently announced as a new signing for USA Major League Rugby side the Utah Warriors for next year.
Loose forward James Venter is another welcome returnee on the bench after missing recent action, as Everitt has stuck with the six-two split between forwards and backs.
The Sharks can potentially cut the gap between themselves and the Bulls to just three points with a win in Johannesburg as the Pretoria team has seen their fixture against Griquas cancelled and declared a draw due to Covid-19 protocols.
Sharks –15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Thembelani Bholi 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images