Sharks face Rebels without Du Preez
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Sharks head coach Robert Du Preez has named a 23-man squad for their Super Rugby match against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday at Kings Park.
Fresh from a bye, the Sharks will hope to put in a stellar performance against the Rebels before they set sail to Buenos Aires.
The Sharks will be without the services of flank Jean-Luc du Preez after he picked up a niggle during the week. Philip van der Walt will take his spot in the starting XV.
At fullback, Rhyno Smith will be earning his first Super Rugby start for the season, while Curwin Bosch will fulfill the flyhalf position.
"After seven weeks of tough competition, we welcomed the opportunity to have a few days off. The players arrived at training refreshed and energetic," head coach Robert du Preez said.
"We’ve set out our goals as a team and we have a few important weeks coming up, with two trips abroad, and we need to remain focused and take each game as it comes, without getting ahead of ourselves.
"Our performances this year have shown that our young team has the talent and the temperament needed to succeed and we still have room for improvement. What excites us is the work ethic and commitment that our players have shown," he added.
Despite the Sharks' hard-fought 18-13 win against Jaguares in Round seven and their bye this week, the mentor refused to rest on their laurels and has urged his team to take make use of the home ground advantage.
"The Rebels have come off a win against the Brumbies and will want to start their SA tour off well. Like the other Australian sides they like to spread the ball wide and play an expansive game.
"We’ve had a good training week and will certainly not be taking the Rebels lightly. We once again get an opportunity to play at home and we need to take our opportunities and make our home advantage count,"
Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Date: Saturday, April 22
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19.30 (17.30 GMT; 03.30 AUS Time Sunday, April 23)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)