Sharks coach Sean Everitt says captain Lukhanyo Am and Sbu Nkosi’s injury-enforced absence will give Jeremy Ward and Yaw Penxe a good opportunity against the Cheetahs on Friday.
The Sharks will be without their regular captain and outside centre as well as another World Cup-winning Springbok in Nkosi when they face the Cheetahs at Kings Park.
Jeremy Ward and Yaw Penxe have both been promoted from the bench to replace Am and Nkosi, respectively, in what are the only changes to the Sharks starting lineup from the team that beat the Pumas convincingly in Nelspruit.
It will be a tough test for Ward and Penxe as they will be up against a Cheetahs backline boasting the likes of Frans Steyn and Rosko Specman.
Speaking during an online media conference on Wednesday, Sharks coach Everitt, however, said he is very confident in the duo’s ability to perform on Friday.
‘It’s not ideal but we have got good replacements in Jeremy and Yaw,’ Everitt said. ‘I said last week that Yaw is a special talent and he did very well when he came off the bench against the Pumas. So, I think it is quite exciting for him to get an opportunity.
‘Jeremy has been in our system for a while. We also rested Lukhanyo in Super Rugby when we played against the Melbourne Rebels and Jeremy fulfilled that role and performed very well in that game. It is an exciting time for Jeremy. He got a few minutes off the bench in each game. Now he gets an opportunity to start.
‘At the same time, we were due to rest Lukhanyo at some stage. So this is a good opportunity for Jeremy to put his hand up.’
Penxe’s entry into the starting lineup means that the Sharks will be fielding their fifth different outside-back combination since domestic rugby returned with Super Fan Saturday.
However, Everitt said his team has been together long enough to cope with the disruptions.
‘We aren’t finding our feet at all. We have been together for a while now. It is about giving people an opportunity. We have got a squad with a lot of depth in those positions.
‘Werner Kok got three starts and he played in the Green and Gold game. Yaw was impressive off the bench and has earned a spot. I am very happy with him and confident to give him that opportunity.’
With Am out, loose forward Henco Venter will be captaining the Sharks on Friday against his former side.
‘Henco has been in our leadership group this year. He showed strong leadership over the past weekend against the Pumas. He might not have been a guy who you would have thought would be captain, but he has been a silent leader within the group.
‘He is going to take the reins. We feel he is the right person for it and he can also assist Hyron Andrews in our lineouts.’
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