'Injured' Sharks add some Bok muscle for season-opener
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Sharks have bulked up with some Springbok muscle for their opening match of the United Rugby Championship season – against a much-improved Zebre on Friday.
The Sharks, who arrived in Parma without two frontline flyhalves, will be captained by Bok prop Thomas du Toit.
The backline has been revamped from their pre-season outings.
Curwin Bosch has fractured his thumb and is expected to be sidelined till the end of October.
Lionel Cronje suffered an arm fracture and will have the same lay-off time.
Boeta Chamberlain was named at flyhalf for the encounter with a Zebre team that ran Leinster close last week.
Journeyman Fred Zeilinga has rejoined the Sharks after stints with the Cheetahs, the Eagles in Japan and the Lions, and provides cover off the bench.
The midfield has a menacing look – with Springbok Rohan Janse van Rensburg making his first official start, partnering Wallaby Ben Tapuai in the centres.
Speaking from the team’s training base in Parma, coach Sean Everitt said the Durban-based franchise is determined to improve on last year’s fifth-placed finish on the standings.
“Preparations have gone well, apart from the injuries picked up by Curwin Bosch and Lionel Cronje,” Everitt said.
“Boeta [Chamberlain] showed enough in those pre-season friendlies against the Lions and Stormers that he’s ready to take over the No.10 jersey.”
Everitt concluded that there is no shortage of excitement or motivation, as the Sharks prepare for this opening fixture.
“We, as a group, are really excited about the challenge ahead and can’t wait for Friday’s game.”
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamerlain, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Thomas du Toit (captain), 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Marnus Potgieter.
Date: Friday, September 23
Venue: Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma
Kick-off: 18.30 (17.30 Ireland & UK time; 18.30 SA time)
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy), Dante D’elia (Italy)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)