• Libbok at 15, JP to wing it for Sharks

    New recruits Manie Libbok and Werner Kok will both start for the Sharks against the Lions in Durban on Friday, while JP Pietersen has been named on the wing.

    The Sharks will host the Lions in Durban in the opening fixture of South Africa’s domestic tournament, Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked, at 7pm.

    Two new signings for the Sharks – Libbok and Kok – will both be making their first official starts after playing for the team on Super Fan Saturday a couple of weeks ago.

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    Both players start in the back three, with Libbok playing at fullback while Kok starts on the left wing, while veteran Pietersen returns to the starting lineup on the right wing.

    Aphelele Fassi, Madosh Tambwe and Sbu Nkosi all remain sidelined through injury.

    There are a few changes from the team that went down to the Vodacom Bulls in the pre-season encounter, with Marius Louw replacing Jeremy Ward in midfield.

    Among the forwards, James Venter has recovered from the concussion that kept him out of the Bulls loss and starts alongside former Junior Springbok captain Phendulani Buthelezi in the loose trio.

    Another Junior Springbok, hooker Dylan Richardson, retains his place in the run-on XV after a solid outing against the Bulls.

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    There are three potential Sharks debutants on the bench. Dan Jooste, who recently moved from Western Province, loose forward Celimpilo Gumede and wing/fullback Thaakir Abrahams will all make their first official appearances if they get on to the field.

    Sharks –  15 Manie Libbok, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Werner Kok, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Phendulani Buthelezi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Dylan Richardson, 1 Ox Nche.
    Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Celimpilo Gumede, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Thaakir Abrahams.

    Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images