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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

No surprise as Lwazi notches ton



There were no surprises as Cell C Sharks coach Robert du Preez found himself in the happy position of being able to choose what looks a relatively full-strength side for Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby opener against the Reds in Brisbane.

Keegan Daniel and Daniel du Preez are of course at home in South Africa still recovering from injuries, but otherwise the Sharks appear to be at full muster for the seasonal pipe-opener.

That is a rare position for the Durban franchise, who in recent seasons have gone into the competition already feeling the impact of injuries to key players.

Former Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk will make his Sharks Super Rugby debut on the wing, and another former Western Cape based player, flanker Jacques Vermeulen, will make his Super Rugby debut off the bench.

Also on the bench is last year’s Junior Springbok captain Jeremy Ward, while French international Clement Poitrenuad brings some experience to the replacements.

An indication of the impressive depth boasted by the Sharks in some positions this year is that stalwart lock Stefan Lewies will start the season backing up Ruan Botha and Etienne Oosthuizen from the bench.

The presence of Poitrenaud on the bench means of course that young Curwin Bosch will start the season at fullback, and much will be expected of him.

The former Eastern Province Schools star played his early rugby at flyhalf but he is serving an apprenticeship and being eased into the big time from the last line of defence - he needs to brush up on his one-on-one defence - and it worked for him in last year’s Currie Cup.

He is the Sharks’ back-up flyhalf and will move there should, perish the thought, something happen to skipper Patrick Lambie, who starts the season in the No 10 jersey and with the captaincy armband after only joining the fray much later in the 2016 competition.

Sharks fans will feel more emboldened by their team’s chances with the knowledge that Cobus Reinach is back from injury to wear the No 9 jersey for the first time in nearly a year.

The Springbok halfback duo should bring some stability and direction that perhaps the Sharks lacked in their attacking game last season.

“We have had some great training sessions over the past two days and we are ready to go,” said Sharks coach Robert du Preez from Australia.

“There are no surprises in this team. We have rewarded guys who have done well for us so far. I think it’s an exciting side and we are looking forward to see how it goes on Friday.”

Although Lambie is captain, wing Lwazi Mvovo will lead the side onto the field as he celebrates his landmark 100th cap.

“Lwazi playing his 100th game for the Sharks is a massive achievement and I am very pleased for him. He is a guy who sets incredibly high standards for himself and it is great to have someone like him in the set-up,” said the coach.

Cell C Sharks team: Curwin Bosch, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie (captain), Cobus Reinach, Tera Mtembu (vice-captain), Jean-Luc du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Etienne Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Stephan Lewies, Jacques Vermeulen, Michael Claassens, Jeremy Ward, Clement Poitrenaud.



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