Sharks big guns back for Lions
The events of the past couple of hours have added further interest what was an already interesting ABSA Currie Cup showdown between the old rivals from Durban and Johannesburg on Saturday evening.
The MTN Golden Lions, reeling from the knowledge that they are now no longer officially a part of Vodacom Super Rugby after Thursday’s decision by SARU to relegate them in favour of the Southern Kings, will be extra motivated to make a point to the administrators. After all, they are being excluded for a franchise team that doesn’t even have representation in the upper echelon of the domestic competition, so if they can go out and win it again, that will be quite a statement.
But the Sharks, after losing to the Lions in last year’s Currie Cup final and also in a key Super Rugby league match in early June, will also be thirsting for revenge, and their coaches have signaled their intent by recalling all the first choice players who sat out last week’s ultimately winning trip to Cape Town.
Louis Ludik, in such excellent form for the Sharks towards the end of Super Rugby, is back at fullback for Gouws Prinsloo - a selection that advertises the strength available to the Sharks as Prinsloo must have been pretty close to being the Sharks’ man of the match at Newlands.
Ludik is joined in the starting team by regular scrumhalf Charl McLeod, who many feel has played well enough in the past few months to get more recognition than he is getting from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. Anton Bresler, now confirming his potential as a lock as every week he plays with more and more aggression, is back in the second row for Jandre Marais, who drops to the bench.
In the other change to the Sharks pack Jacques Botes takes up No 8 from Lubalalo Mthembu, with Francois Kleynhans coming into the side in the openside flank position filled by Botes last week.
Although the game will take place after the test match between South Africa and Argentina on Saturday evening, the fact both teams scored good wins last week – the Lions saw off the Cheetahs – should ensure a decent crowd at Mr Price Kings Park as the Sharks return from their round the world trip that has included two play-off wins against the Reds and Stormers, a loss in the Super Rugby final to the Chiefs in Hamilton and a noteworthy win over WP, again in Cape Town.
SHARKS TEAM: Louis Ludik, Odwa Ndungane, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, S’bura Sithole, Riaan Viljoen, Charl McLeod, Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel (captain), Francois Kleynhans, Anton Bresler, Steven Sykes, Wiehahn Herbst, Craig Burden, Dale Chadwick. Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Julian Redelinghuys, Jandre Marais, Lubalalo Mthembu, Cobus Reinach, Marius Joubert, Gouws Prinsloo.