Zas returns to Newlands
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Sharks coach Robert du Preez has made two changes to his matchday 22 for the crucial Currie Cup encounter with Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
The two top-ranked teams in the competition go head-to-head in the only Currie Cup match of the weekend – the penultimate round of league action.
Province and the Sharks are both on a full-house 20 points from four matches and first place on the standings are up for grabs – a position that brings with it the added value of home ground advantage in the play-offs.
Jacques Vermeulen returns to the starting line-up after returning to action and playing off the bench, swapping jerseys with Luke Stringer.
The second change is on the bench, with former Province star Leolin Zas coming in for Sibusiso Nkosi, who is on Bok duty.
It will be his first return for Newlands since he fractured his leg in a Super Rugby pre-season match last years and subsequently signed with the Sharks.
The 22-year-old made 10 appearances for WP and 15 for the Stormers.
Oosthuizen, who himself spent a large chunk for 2018 on the sidelines with an injury and made his return to action last weekend in the win over the Golden Lions, warned his teammates about the challenge of playing at Newlands.
“They’re a phenomenal team, also unbeaten, and we know there is plenty of pressure on us for this game, even if we’re also unbeaten,” the Bok prop said.
“Although we have won all the games so far and it is easier when you’re winning rather than losing, the job doesn’t change.
“It doesn’t matter how good you were the last game, the next game is the most important thing.
“So there’s pressure to perform and pressure to be your best and always pressure for the team to bring their best.
“You’re only as good as your last game and we’re not resting on our past victories, we do our preparation 100% and respect every opposition. Western Province deserves every bit of respect they have earned.
“We’re feeling the pressure on us to win, but each and every one of us is up for the challenge, we want to win this game, we want to remain unbeaten in the tournament.”
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle (captain), 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 18 Ruben van Heerden, 19 Luke Stringer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Leolin Zas, 22 Aphelele Fassi.
Date: Saturday, September 29
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 14.00 (12.00 GMT)
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Divan Uys
TMO: Shaun Veldsman