The Cell C Sharks are in Singapore ahead of our opening 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby fixture against the Sunwolves, looking to get the season off to a positive and successful start on Saturday.
There is no doubting that head coach Robert du Preez has selected a powerful side at this juncture (given that he has less than a handful of players unavailable due to injury). He has also named plenty of (mostly) youthful firepower to come off the bench later in the game, and, like the pre-season matches, inject energy when it is needed.
The Cell C Sharks coach confirmed that although Curwin Bosch has been starting at flyhalf in the pre-season warm-up matches and the plan was to continue playing him there for this match, he was unavailable to tour.
“Rob du Preez was being managed after playing overseas but with the injury in the Vodacom Bulls game to Curwin Bosch, Rob will start at flyhalf,” he explained.
Other than that, there are no surprises in the team named to front up to the Sunwolves. Louis Schreuder, who missed last Saturday’s game due to illness, has returned and will lead the side on Saturday (12.55pm kick-off).
Aside from one debutant in the starting XV, this is a side mixed with grizzled veterans and those who are making a name at this level, having already experienced a season or two of Vodacom Super Rugby action.
Aphelele Fassi, one of four youngsters making their debuts on Saturday, will start at fullback with Kerron van Vuuren, Khutha Mchunu and Phendulani Buthelezi all coming off the bench, having earned their positions in the match 23 following outstanding performances against the Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls in the two pre-season hit-outs.
“All the youngsters are very excited. They bring a lot of energy, they put a lot of pressure on the guys who have been around a while, so that competition is very healthy,” said du Preez.
“I am sure every one of those players, when given the opportunity, will make the step up.”
The Cell C Sharks go into this game disadvantaged to a lesser degree than some of the other teams, given the similar weather conditions that plague Durban around this time of year. Du Preez explained that prudent rugby will be the order of the day rather than a high-paced, high-risk game. However, there is just one goal in mind – success.
“The conditions will be tough with the humidity which make rugby difficult, so we’re going to have to do the basics really well. Our set-piece will have to function, breakdown work is extremely important and we need to be really physical.
“For us, it’s about going there to win.”
The Cell C Sharks
1. Tendai Mtawarira
2. Akker van der Merwe
3. Coenie Oosthuizen
4. Hyron Andrews
5. Ruan Botha
6. Jacques Vermeulen
7. Tyler Paul
8. Daniel du Preez
9. Louis Schreuder (C)
10. Robert du Preez
11. Makazole Mapimpi
12. Andre Esterhuizen
13. Lukhanyo Am
14. Sbu Nkosi
15. Aphelele Fassi
16. Kerron van Vuuren
17. Juan Schoeman
18. Khutha Mchunu
19. Gideon Koegelenberg
20. Phendulani Buthelezi
21. Cameron Wright
22. Rhyno Smith
23. Jeremy Ward