Playing selector: Sharks XV for opener

Ahead of this Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby opener for the Sharks, CRAIG LEWIS selects his XV for the clash in Durban.

Considering that the Sharks head off on a challenging four-week overseas tour after this weekend, it heightens the importance of this home game against the Vodacom Bulls on Friday.

On paper, it’s evident that the coastal side boast an array of firepower among a Bok-laden backline, but it will also be key for a somewhat new-look pack to front up at Kings Park.

That said, it will be an exciting prospect to see if the Sharks can successfully execute a change in approach that may revolve more around playing to the strengths of a high-packed, skilful backline.

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In many ways, it’s a back division that should pick itself considering that new coach Sean Everitt can call on three World Cup winners in Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi.

In time, Cameron Wright or talented Sanele Nohamba may push for a starting berth at scrumhalf, but it’s likely that the reliable Louis Schreuder will occupy this role first up.

Among the forwards, the Sharks have bid farewell to some experienced back rowers, but they will be looking to Sikhumbuzo Notshe to make a big impact after his move from the Stormers.

Similarly, there will be some weight of expectation on Ox Nche, who needs to step into the considerable boots vacated by Beast Mtawarira.

All in all, it’s difficult to see the Sharks lineup differing much from the one that ran out at SuperHero Sunday, with this squad boasting plenty of potential.

Lewis’ Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.

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Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets

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Craig Lewis