Springbok utility back Aphelele Fassi will feature for the Sharks as Joey Mongalo named a strong match-day 23 to face the Pumas in the Currie Cup on Friday.
Fassi is one of seven players included by Mongalo to lock horns with the defending champions in Nelspruit, after featuring in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final defeat against Leinster in Dublin last week.
The Bok flyer starts at left wing for the Durbanites at Mbombela Stadium, while hooker Fez Mbatha, lock Corne Rahl, fullback Nevaldo Fleurs, flankers James Venter and Jeandre Labuschagne have also been named in the run-on XV.
Marnus Potgieter, who can play at wing or centre, is set to make an impact off the bench.
Mongalo expects a strong and accurate performance from his troops to continue their momentum in the competition. “This is our third Test match; the first was Free State away, the second was last week against the Bulls, also away, and fortunately we passed those two tests.
“But this one is going to be just as tough, if not tougher than the others. The Pumas are a very good side that led the log for a long time, they’re one of the top teams in the tournament and we mustn’t forget that they’re the reigning champions.
“They’ve had a lot of good victories in the Currie Cup so they’re a force to be reckoned with, one that we have to take as seriously as every other test match game we’ve played. It’s going to be physical, the dew factor and humidity will definitely play a role in how we play and how the game unfolds.
“I have a lot of respect for Jimmy Stonehouse, who coached me at Craven Week level in 2002, for the career he has built and the important figure he is in South African rugby.”
Casting his eye over his selections, Mongalo added: “For us, it’s about more of the same. More cohesion, more connection, and it feels like we’re getting that and building momentum.
“We’ve said to the players that pride comes before a fall and our biggest enemy this week is dropping standards because we’re getting the results. We need to stay humble, keep ticking the boxes and don’t allow any complacency to slip in to anything we do this weekend.
“But we’re looking forward to the trip and to maintaining the momentum we’ve built up over the last few weeks.”
Our starting XV to take on the Airlink Pumas 17H05 tomorrow ?
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) May 11, 2023
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