Champions Cup: Siya Kolisi to lead Sharks in maiden European campaign

Jared Wright
South Africa's Siya Kolisi before the Autumn International match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2022.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will skipper the Sharks in their maiden Champions Cup campaign, director of rugby Neil Powell has confirmed.

The Sharks host Harlequins in their first Champions Cup match, and with regular captain Lukhanyo Am ruled out through injury and stand-in skipper Thomas du Toit serving a suspension, Kolisi will lead the side.

Different captains for different competitions

The Sharks have welcomed Springboks Eben Etzebeth and Kolisi back into their starting line-up to face Harlequins on Saturday.

In the absences of Am and Du Toit, Kolisi has been entrusted with the captain’s armband, and Powell has revealed that it will not be a one-off occurrence.

“We’ve announced Siya as our captain for the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) season,” Powell said after naming his team to tackle Quins.

“So, it will only be for the Heineken Cup games, not for the URC games.

“It’s mainly because we’ll have the Boks available for all the EPCR games this season, so we thought it would be good to make Siya the captain for the whole campaign.”

Am and Du Toit are likely to lead the side in the URC when they return to action.

Powell backs Etzebeth to shine

Etzebeth earns just his second cap for the Sharks since moving from Toulon at the start of the season.

The veteran Springbok produced a man-of-the-match performance on debut against Glasgow Warriors, and Powell expects the same standard from his lock.

“I think we do expect that same performance. That is what Eben brings to this team,” Powell explained.

“He has high standards for himself, and he wants to be successful in everything he does.”

Eight Springboks start against Quins

Powell’s starting line-up against the 2020/21 Premiership champions consists of eight Springboks, with a further four on the bench.

Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi came straight back into the starting team in last week’s win over the Ospreys and retain their positions for Saturday’s encounter.

Etzebeth and Kolisi are the two other Springboks in the starting pack, with fellow internationals Jaden Hendrikse and Curwin Bosch as the half-backs.

Former Wallaby Ben Tapuai starts at inside centre against his old club, with Francois Venter outside of him with Makazole Mapimpi on the wing.

Ntuthuko Mchunu, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Grant Williams and Rohan Janse van Rensburg are the four Springboks on the bench.

Sharks: 15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Nthuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

READ MORE: South Africa’s welcome pack to Europe: The greatest teams and most imposing venues