Operation Highlanders

The Cell C Sharks have turned their attentions to the Highlanders, their Vodacom Super Rugby opponents on Friday morning (9.35am kick-off), as they hit the midway point of their New Zealand tour.

There has been little rotation in team selection for the first seven matches of the tournament, but this week’s team named to play the Highlanders shows a number of changes to the personnel.

“Paul Jordaan was struggling, as was Daniel du Preez, and that afforded a few other guys an opportunity,” explains Director of Rugby Gary Gold.

“There were some niggles after the Blues game and yes, we have a few guys on tour and we want to bring them in. We want competition for places to be strong and with a squad of 27 on tour, we want to be able to call on each of them, and for everyone to make a contribution.”

Paul Jordaan’s niggle has precluded his selection which means JP Pietersen shifts to outside centre with Odwa Ndungane coming into the starting line-up. His place on the bench is taken by S’bura Sithole.

Also named on the bench are Chiliboy Ralepelle and Jean Deysel for their first probable appearances this year.

Garth April has been given a start and swaps places with Joe Pietersen while Keegan Daniel, in for Daniel du Preez, is the final change.

The determination to turn things around is matched by the team’s determination to play well.

“It’s also really important for us to look after the ball through the phases,” Gold explains. “There were opportunities on the weekend we did well to create, but when we got ourselves into a good field position, we spilled ball or made elementary errors.

“A lot of our focus has also been about ball retention and building the phases. You do need to value your defence, but when you have the ball, you want to make it count.”

Despite last week’s loss to the Blues, the Cell C Sharks are upbeat and determined to turn their fortunes around, something Gold acknowledges contentedly.

“I’ve been really happy with the way the guys have reacted to the Blues game, it’s been a good training week for us.

“We’re positive and excited for this weekend’s match against the champions.”

The Cell C Sharks

15. Willie Le Roux Replacements:
14. Odwa Ndungane 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle
13. JP Pietersen 17. Thomas du Toit
12. Andre Esterhuizen 18. Lourens Adriaanse
11. Lwazi Mvovo 19. Hyron Andrews
10. Garth April 20. Jean Deysel
9. Cobus Reinach 21. Michael Claassens
8. Philip van der Walt 22. Joe Pietersen
7. Jean-Luc du Preez  23. S’bura Sithole
6. Keegan Daniel
5. Stephan Lewies
4. Etienne Oosthuizen
3. Coenie Oosthuizen
2. Franco Marais
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Captain)