The inclusion of Springboks Sbu Nkosi and Thomas du Toit are two of five changes to the Sharks starting lineup for Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province at Newlands.
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt could fortunately select from a full squad after Covid-19 delays allowed those not available to get through the protocols and return for contention.
In the backline, Nkosi replaces Werner Kok on the wing, Marius Louw takes over from Jeremy Ward at inside centre and Sanele Nohamba is back at scrumhalf in place of Jaden Hendrikse.
Up front, Henco Venter returns to the loose trio ahead of Thembelani Bholi and Du Toit will scrum down at tighthead in place of Michael Kumbirai.
The new additions to the bench are props Kumbirai and Mzamo Majola, lock Hyron Andrews, Bholi, Hendrikse, Ward and Manie Libbok.
Commenting on the upcoming match, captain Lukhanyo Am said: ‘The delay was a blessing in disguise, giving teams a longer period to prepare for the semi-finals and to sharpen up on the issues that needed to be improved upon.
‘With the group we have that’s been together for a long time, missing a week isn’t something that we feel will bite us. It happens in-season anyway, I still believe it came at the perfect time.’
The match has been hyped up as pitting an exciting Sharks backline against a dominant Province pack and Am feels both sides will be looking to counter their opponents’ strengths.
‘We know what Western Province’s strengths are in terms of set-piece dominance, they’ve proven it throughout the comp, so from our side, we’ve been working on us mainly, to try strengthen any parts we feel need working on.
‘If we’re able to get our own set piece going and challenge them on theirs, I think it will be a very exciting game to watch.’
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 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 Ruben van Heerden, 4 JJ van Mescht, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Manie Libbok.
Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images