A Cell C Sharks side boasting some new faces travel to Mbombela Stadium to take on the Phakisa Pumas in an important Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked clash on Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Sean Everitt has had to make a number of changes due to injury, while also using rotation to keep the squad both fresh but also battle-hardened.
“Thomas du Toit is out because of injury and he’s replaced by John-Hubert Meyer, while Michael Kumbirai, who joined us last year, will have an opportunity to make his debut off the bench,” Everitt explained.
“For us, bringing in JJ van der Mescht was a rotational change, we need to keep the squad fresh and the guys energised and JJ has only had 40 minutes in the last two weeks, so we’re giving him an opportunity to keep him up to speed, to get game time and to see what difference he can make to our pack.”
The loose-forward trio has been rejigged; with James Venter having injured his ankle against the Bulls, he is replaced by Dylan Richardson while Sikhumbuzo Notshe is out with a hamstring strain although it is hoped he will be available next week.
“We didn’t want to risk him, and it gives Phepsi Buthelezi a run in his primary position which is eighthman. It’s a good opportunity for him to show what he can do.”
Madosh Tambwe will also get his first run in the competition in place of Werner Kok. “Werner has played with a lot of energy and Madosh was one of our better wings in Super Rugby and has returned from a hamstring injury sustained during the lockdown period and it’s also just a matter of giving him a run to see how he performs.”
There are two debutants named in the match 23, the aforementioned Michael Kumbirai and Thembelani Bholi who hails from the Eastern Cape and has represented the Southern Kings as well as the Bulls and Pumas.
“It’s very much a case of getting back in the saddle,” said Everitt.
“We lost our way in our lineouts and we weren’t able to really take the game by the scruff of the neck because we were just losing possession. We weren’t happy with our set-piece, but fortunately it is something we can fix and we’ve worked hard to rectify that.
“We’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves this weekend.”
Cell C Sharks
2. Dan Jooste
3. John-Hubert Meyer
4. JJ van der Mescht
5. Hyron Andrews
6. Dylan Richardson
7. Henco Venter
8. Phepsi Buthelezi
9. Sanele Nohamba
10. Curwin Bosch
11. Madosh Tambwe
12. Marius Louw
13. Lukhanyo Am (c)
14. Sbu Nkosi
15. Manie Libbok
16. Kerron van Vuuren
17. Mzamo Majola
18. Michael Kumbirai*
19. Ruben van Heerden
20. Thembelani Bholi*
21. Grant Williams
22. Jeremy Ward
23. Yaw Penxe
*Denotes that the player is set to make his debut for the Cell C Sharks, if he comes off the bench.