The Sharks will be looking to Frans Steyn to preserve their undefeated record against the Highlanders at Kings Park on Friday night.
Sharks director of rugby Jake White has persisted with Tim Swiel at flyhalf for the second consecutive week. What will be interesting to see is whether Swiel kicks for goal from the outset. The stats suggest that Steyn should be entrusted with these important duties.
The Sharks are well placed at the top of the log, but they cannot afford to be complacent. The Highlanders have an underrated pack of forwards, who thrive in a looser contest. Their backs specialise in counter-attacking play, and somebody like Ben Smith will test that great Sharks defence (ranked first in the tournament for fewest tries conceded). The Sharks' recent performances against the Lions and Cheetahs were anything but polished, and they may need to grind out another ugly win this weekend.
Goal-kicking will be key in a tight finish, and at present the Sharks don't have a better option than Frans Steyn.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Sharks 5 Highlanders 1
In Durban: Sharks 3 Highlanders 0
STEYN'S STATS THAT MATTER
63 – The number of points he's scored this season (Rank 12th)
79% – His goal-kicking success rate in 2014 (23/29)
Sharks – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 John Hardie.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images