Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has made several changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Paul Jordaan’s niggle has precluded his selection which means JP Pietersen shifts to outside centre with Odwa Ndungane coming into the run-on side on the wing. His place on the bench is taken by S’bura Sithole.
Also named on the bench are Chiliboy Ralepelle and Jean Deysel for their first probable appearances this year.
Garth April has been given a start and swaps places with Joe Pietersen at fly-half while Keegan Daniel, in for Daniel du Preez, is the final change.
“Paul Jordaan was struggling, as was Daniel du Preez, and that afforded a few other guys an opportunity,” explained Gold.
“There were some niggles after the Blues game and yes, we have a few guys on tour and we want to bring them in.
“We want competition for places to be strong and with a squad of 27 on tour, we want to be able to call on each of them, and for everyone to make a contribution.”
The determination to turn things around is matched by the team’s determination to play well.
“It’s also really important for us to look after the ball through the phases,” Gold explains. “There were opportunities on the weekend we did well to create, but when we got ourselves into a good field position, we spilled ball or made elementary errors.
“A lot of our focus has also been about ball retention and building the phases. You do need to value your defence, but when you have the ball, you want to make it count.”
Despite last week’s loss to the Blues, theSharks are upbeat and determined to turn their fortunes around, something Gold acknowledges contentedly.
“I’ve been really happy with the way the guys have reacted to the Blues game, it’s been a good training week for us,” he added.
“We’re positive and excited for this weekend’s match against the champions.”
Sharks: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (c)
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Joe Pietersen, 23 S’bura Sithole
Date: Friday, April 22
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keefe
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Kane McBride
TMO: Shane McDermott