Neil Powell has roped in the likes of Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth during a “difficult week” to help refocus the Sharks to face the Ospreys in Durban on Friday.
Springbok captain Kolisi and respected enforcer Etzebeth carried a heavy load for the world champions on their November tour and haven’t been included in the Sharks match-day 23 for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash at Kings Park.
However, Powell, who has been installed as the head coach for the rest of the season following Sean Everitt’s sacking, has selected returning Boks Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Jaden Hendrikse, Makazole Mapimpi, Grant Williams and Ntuthuko Mchunu.
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Speaking in a media conference on Thursday, Powell admitted to having rallied the troops after Everitt’s axing, and in the wake of a disappointing 35-0 defeat to Cardiff on Sunday.
“To have those Boks back was really good to help refocus us,” Powell said. “It was a difficult week and we spoke a lot about what happened, and how we see the next week and the focus needs to be shifted.
“It’s obviously not easy but I think it was important for us to get together as a whole squad and talk about what happened at the weekend.
“Yes, 35-0 was disappointing, and we all know that we were a part of that. We’ve got to refocus and make sure we’re prepared for the next game and hopefully be successful in this game.
“The goals are still the same and it’s just about getting clarity and the buy-in from the players.”
In other team changes, Vincent Tshituka shifts from flank to lock with Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jeandre Labuschagne and Phepsi Buthelezi packing down in a formidable back row, while flyhalf Curwin Bosch returns after a lengthy injury layoff.
“It was important for us to maximise the pack and the way we wanted to play. Think Vincent can make a massive contribution at four lock,” Powell said.
“You would like your most important players on the field and that’s why we selected both Notshe and Phepsi in the starting lineup.
“We’ve wanted to reward players who’ve played well and Lappies played really well against the Cheetahs [in a warm-up game last week] and that’s why he starts.
The Sharks boss added: “Curwin has been training with us fully for a few weeks now. What we’re looking for from Curwin is just to manage the game from a kicking perspective.
“We want to make sure we play in the opposition half and that’s mainly why we selected Curwin.”
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