DURBAN – The Sharks, after making their intentions clear last week in Ballito as to what their team would look like for the opening game of Super Rugby, have sprung no surprises. The team announced to play the Sunwolves in Singapore at 12.55pm tomorrow is as close as can be to the one that drew with the Bulls in their last warm-up game.
There is an enforced change, however, with Curwin Bosch remaining at home with an injury niggle. He is replaced by Robert du Preez jr at flyhalf.
It is probably thus more interesting to note his bench which has three potential Super Rugby debutants.
In the front row, Kerron van Vuuren and Khutha Mchunu will be raring to replace Akker van der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen when their time comes, while last year’s Under-19 captain, Pepsi Buthelezi will provide fresh determination for the loose forwards.
Aphelele Fassi will also earn his first cap as he starts at fullback after a stellar year in the lower competitions for the Sharks.
Fassi shone at the SuperSport Challenge, and earned a call up to the Currie Cup where he started making a name for himself.
Fassi has now graduated to Super Rugby with his coach clearly seeing something special in the youngster.
“All the youngsters are very excited. They bring a lot of energy, they put a lot of pressure on the guys who have been around a while, so that competition is very healthy,” said coach Robert du Preez.
“I am sure every one of those players, when given the opportunity, will make the step up.”
Du Preez also added that the conditions in humid Singapore should not play too much of a role for the Durban-based outfit.
“The conditions will be tough with the humidity which make rugby difficult, so we’re going to have to do the basics really well. Our set-piece will have to function, breakdown work is extremely important and we need to be really physical,” added the coach.
“For us, it’s about going there to win.”
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