Mtawarira returns for Sharks

Date published: May 20 2015

Sharks boss Gary Gold has made one change to his starting XV for Friday's clash with the Reds in Brisbane.

Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira returns to the run-on side in place of Dale Chadwick who drops down to the bench where he takes over from Matt Stevens. Mtawarira was a late withdrawal before last week's clash against the Waratahs.

The only other changes to the matchday squad sees Giant Mtyanda taking over from Mouritz Botha as lock cover and Fred Zeilinga replacing Waylon Murray as a backline reserve.

The Sharks are keen to end their four-match tour of New Zealand and Australia on a high against their hosts who are second from bottom in the standings.

Both sides have not enjoyed the kinds of seasons their players, coaches and supporters expected at the start of the season, but for some bad luck and a host of injuries in key positions, perhaps their respective campaigns might have been different.

“You look at the players in their team – Slipper, Horwell, Genia, O’Connor – these are really good rugby players, highly experienced internationals and this is a team going through a similar season to us,” explained Gold.

“With a couple of injuries and a couple of poor performances, they’ve found themselves on the end of a couple of bad results. But credit to them, they turned the corner last weekend against a good Rebels team and we know we’re going to have our hands full this weekend.”

Gold does however believe that the improvement in his team’s attack should bode well for this match.

“We crossed the tryline five times against the Hurricanes, although two of them weren’t awarded, and we crossed the tryline a few times this weekend and one wasn’t awarded," he added.

"So we’re creating opportunities and very nearly finishing them. I’m excited about that, I’m excited about our counter-attack and I’m excited about how we look with ball in hand.

“But we’re not fooling ourselves, we realise that we need a vast improvement in our defence. But we have some young guys on the park who are learning a huge amount.

"Coupled with the fact that we look quite good with ball in hand and I have no doubt we can only improve. I’m reasonably encouraged by the fact that the issues we’re getting wrong are very fixable.”

Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Etienne Oosthuizen, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Andre Esterhuizen.

Date: Friday, May 22
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19:40 local (21:40 NZST, 11:40 SAST, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)