Sharks coach Sean Everitt hasn’t quite thrown out the baby with the bathwater, but injuries have forced him to trust his youngsters for Saturday’s critical Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Pumas in Mbombela.
His fresh starting XV sees Phendulani Buthelezi at eightman, Dylan Richardson at openside flank, JJ van der Mescht at lock and Dan Jooste at hooker. Perhaps the changes are a response to the bullying the Sharks got from the Bulls, while John-Hubert Meyer replaces Thomas du Toit at tight-head prop.
Loose-forward Thembelani Bholi and prop Michael Kumbirai are set fort heir Sharks debuts should they come off the bench, but the experience in the backline remains for the team with Madosh Tambwe starting at wing.
Everitt has had a lot of experience losing to the Pumas. While he has rung his rotational changes, he understands how teams like the Pumas tend to play above themselves when confronted by one of the big teams.
Their most recent performance against the Stormers where they lost a game they should have won is one example.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of the Pumas a few times. The Pumas in Mbombela are dangerous and players at the smaller unions want to get contracts at the bigger unions. Everyone wrote them off after the first game‚ but they showed their potential against the Griquas in Kimberley‚” Everitt said.
“They probably deserve to win against the Stormers‚ so they’d see themselves as a tad unlucky not to win that game. There’s no underestimating them and we’ve seen what they can do.”
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok‚ 14 Sibusiso Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain)‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Madosh Tambwe‚ 10 Curwin Bosch‚ 9 Sanele Nohamba‚ 8 Phepsi Buthelezi‚ 7 Henco Venter‚ 6 Dylan Richardson‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 JJ van der Mescht‚ 3 John-Hubert Meyer‚ 2 Dan Jooste‚ 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren‚ 17 Mzamo Majola‚ 18 Michael Kumbirai‚ 19 Ruben van Heerden‚ 20 Thembelani Bholi‚ 21 Grant Williams‚ 22 Jeremy Ward‚ 23 Yaw Penxe.