DURBAN – So far this Super Rugby season, Sharks fans have seen some brilliant tries scored by the backs thanks to Herculean forward efforts but Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira warns that life will get tougher tomorrow against the Stormers at Jonsson Kings Park (5pm).
The Beast, in his sunset year with the Sharks, has been the cornerstone of an impressive Sharks forward effort over the last fortnight, but now a Stormers pack headed by belligerent Eben Etzebeth (back from injury) is in town, and The Beast knows that his pack has to up its game.
“This match will be our toughest forward battle so far,” he said. “We have gone really well in our first two games but we know how SA derbies are and the Stormers have some big names in their pack.
“It is hard to go up against guys you know from having played alongside them (with the Springboks) and then you have to go head to head in fierce battle," The Beast continued.
Etzebeth and Co won’t hold back, and neither will the likes of The Beast, Coenie Oosthuizen, Ruan Botha and Tyler Paul mongrels the lot of them.
Former captain Botha on Tuesday said that the set piece battle will decide the match, and Mtawarira agrees.
“There is so much quality in both tight fives. We have been going very well in the set pieces, it is something we are priding ourselves on after having made it a big focus in pre-season. We worked very hard on making this area a strength.
“It has been great for us forwards to take our heads out of the scrum and see the backs have taken the ball 20m up field,” the Beast continued. “We are obviously aiming for more of the same, but it is not going to be that easy.”
Coach Robert du Preez named the same match 23 for the match that he did the week before against the Blues.
“We have been blessed with being able to select the same squad,” Du Preez said. “Having said that, from the beginning of the season I stated that we will rotate much more than last year. We got rotation a little wrong. That said, this is our third match and we believe continuity will stand us in good stead against the Stormers, and at this early stage of the season.”
The Stormers have been a mixed bag in their two matches, losing horribly to the Bulls and then making a gutsy comeback to beat the Lions.
“The only thing I know for sure they will bring is physicality,” Du Preez said. “That is where we are going to have to be top of our game. We are a work in progress. You haven’t seen the best of this team yet. We want to keep on improving. That is a big driver for us come kick-off."
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Reserves: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Referee: Jaco Peyper.
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira.
Reserves: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch.
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