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Sharks to unleash their big guns on Benetton

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Sharks are not going to hold anything back at Kings Park on Saturday, when they host Italian outfit Benetton in a United Rugby Championship Round 16 encounter.

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While they might have swapped tournaments, they have not let the focus of the season waver and will be using this match for growth and improvement.

Coach John Plumtree hasn’t tinkered much with the side that defeated Clermont last weekend to advance to the Challenge Cup Final as he looks to maintain continuity in team selection as well as how the team continues to gel.

There are two changes in the forwards.

Corne Rahl replaces Emile van Heerden at lock and Gerbrandt Grobler gets a start at flank, with Vincent Tshituka shifting to No.8 in place of Phepsi Buthelezi.

The final change sees Francois Venter replacing Ethan Hooker at centre.

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Assistant coach Warren Whitely admitted this week that despite the change in focus in terms of title aspirations, there isn’t much in the way of shifting focus, but using this match to fine tune their performances.

“What we’ve made clear is that after our review of the Clermont game, there were things we felt that we need to work on and be better at,” Whiteley said.

“This weekend allows us to be better, even though it’s a different competition.

“We will need to be better in the final and that’s why our focus is on this week, to be better than we were against Clermont and improve where we can.”

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The list of players still sidelined with injury includes Coenie Oosthuizen, Curwin Bosch, Dylan Richardson, George Cronje, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Marnus Potgieter, Muller du Plessis, Nevaldo Fleurs, Zee Mkhabela.

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Vincent Tshituka, 7 Gerbrandt Grobler, 6 James Venter, 5 Corne Rahl, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Lappies Labuschagne, 20 Tino Mavesere, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Diego Appolis.

Date: Saturday, May 11
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 16.05 (16.05 Italian time; 14.05 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant referees: Morné Ferreira, Hanru van Rooyen
TMO: Hollie Davidson

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