The Durban duel between athletic No 8s Ryan Kankowski and Warren Whiteley will be a highlight when the Sharks meet the Lions, writes JEREMY PROOME.
Kankowski made a welcome return to Super Rugby after a stint in Japan and the 28-year-old seems more passionate and dedicated to the Sharks jersey than ever. He has earned the starting nod from Jake White and had a great opening game against the Bulls, showing no difficulty easing back into Super Rugby. His impressive running and back-like skills were on show against the Hurricanes last weekend, but while he tends to find himself out wide and participating in the open play more often than not, he’s also getting more involved with the breakdowns and putting in defensive hits that would make Willem Alberts proud.
Whiteley must have one of the toughest jobs in Super Rugby as he’s tasked with resurrecting a Lions side and proving that they deserve to be in the Southern Hemisphere’s premier competition. Whiteley has had a phenomenal start to his captaincy, defeating the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and making all the right calls to make sure they stayed in the match. He was also the catalyst for the opening try against the Stormers in Ellis Park, cutting through the defence with his unpredictable speed and skill learned in his time in the Springbok Sevens set-up. If leading by example is the key to success, Whiteley is excelling. He will have a tough task dealing with the Sharks and Kankowski particularly, but his calm and composed yet direct attitude should put him in good stead for the duel.
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