Director of Rugby Jake White has made his first changes to the Sharks line-up this season with JP Pietersen named to start on the wing.
Director of Rugby Jake White has made his first changes to the Sharks line-up this season with JP Pietersen named to start on the wing, S'bura Sithole at centre and Pat Lambie returning to the side after missing the Lions game due to illness.
After naming the same match 23 for three matches in a row, White has been forced into making changes for this Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Reds at Kings Park.
Pietersen returned from his Japanese club commitments this week, but testament to the player's pedigree and experience and the fact that the pair know each other so well from their Springbok days together as player and coach, White had no hesitation in naming him to start in place of Odwa Ndungane, who is away on compassionate leave.
Lambie was given bed rest after being struck low with illness on Friday after initially being named to play, with Frans Steyn slotting in at fly-half. With Lambie now fully recovered, he will return at ten with Steyn going back to inside centre.
The loss of Paul Jordaan to a knee injury means there will be a completely new centre pairing, with S'bura Sithole slotting in at 13 alongside Steyn. White made no secret of the fact that Sithole is a great talent and raved about his contribution in the pre-season match against the Lions at outside centre.
Sithole's place on the bench has been taken by Jaco van Tonder while Tera Mtembu comes in for Jean Deysel.
While the threat posed by the Reds and Australian half-back pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper is immense, White feels confident that the Sharks can contain the threat the duo pose.
“They are a good combination, but the Sharks have had quite a good record against the Reds, and the group of Springboks in the Sharks team have also had a lot of success against the Aussies, so, as much as they are a threat and are the focal point for their game, we are confident that in past performances, both from a South African and a franchise point of view, we should be able to handle them,” said White.
The Sharks will once again hope to be playing in front of a big crowd which in turn motivates them even further.
“One way to get people to the stadium is by playing well and winning, and this weekend we have a 17:00 kick-off against a Reds team that has won the competition and like the players, I'm hoping we get even more supporters in this weekend, and an even better vibe,” added White.
“Because there is no doubt that the winning brings the fans, and them being here helps us win.”
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 Jaco van Tonder
Date: Saturday, March 15
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17.05 local (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)