Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has largely stuck with last week’s side in naming his team to host the Jaguares at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
That this is a must win match, a knock-out or final if you will, cannot be more emphasised and the team know only too well the importance riding on the outcome of the match.
Continuity is like gold and minimal changes means the side will look to finish the pool stages on a high.
As expected, Beast Mtawarira returns in place of Juan Schoeman after having his workload reduced last week, while Kobus van Wyk replaces the injured Sbu Nkosi on the wing.
Scans have indicated that Nkosi has a syndesmosis sprain on his left ankle and will unfortunately be out for approximately eight to 12 weeks. The good news is that Daniel du Preez has been cleared to play and takes his place at number eight.
One player who is enjoying his extended playing role is lock Tyler Paul who has come in to replace the injured Stephan Lewies and has taken his opportunities with both hands.
“As a player, you want to be in the mix, starting regularly because that’s how you get noticed further down the line,” he explains. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had some injuries, but it’s been nice for me to get opportunities to start week in and week out.
“But with that comes responsibilities; obviously performing primarily, doing my job on matchday.”
There is no getting away from the fact that there is enormous pressure on the Sharks this week, but Paul emphasises that this is not something the players shy away from.
“You want to play in high pressure games in professional rugby, these are the moments that make or break players or teams. So, this weekend is do or die for us, we have to win. Unfortunately there is another result we have to count on but if that goes our way and we pull out all the stops in our match then we will be fine.
“The vibe in the camp has been good, training has gone well and the guys are ready and will be at their best.”
The first round match against the Jaguares was won by the Argentineans in Buenos Aires but that has no bearing on this match.
“Going there is never easy, the travel factor is a major influence, but we can’t use that as any excuse for the result there,” he points out. “They are coming here to our home ground, and if we match them upfront – the Jaguares are known for their physicality – and lay a good platform, our backs should do well.
“And if we can maintain composure and keep calm in the high pressure situations and remain focused, then hopefully we’ll prevail.”
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi
Date: Saturday, July 14
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:15 local (16:15 BST, 15:15 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Willie Vos