Everybody wrote the Pumas off in the first round when the Cheetahs blitzed them in the first half of that game, but they showed their potential when they beat Griquas in Kimberley and came close to beating the Stormers.
ANYBODY who has watched the Pumas play has to have noticed how their coach, the inimitable Jimmy Stonehouse, wears his heart on his sleeve.
Stonehouse, a power-lifter who has biceps bigger than those of his players, is hugely respected by his rival coaches for the wonders he produces despite limited resources.
Sean Everitt, the Sharks coach who will do battle with Stonehouse at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday, says he wasn’t in the least surprised that the Pumas outwitted – and almost outplayed – the fancied Stormers last week.
“I wasn’t shocked by that game – not at all – because I have been on the receiving end of those Pumas performances a few times,” Everitt said. “They play with desperation, and they have players that want to get contracts at bigger teams.
“Everybody wrote them off in the first round when the Cheetahs blitzed them in the first half of that game, but they certainly showed their potential when they beat Griquas in Kimberley, and probably deserved to beat the Stormers.”
Everitt has refreshed his team for the game, making five changes to the side that lost to the Bulls.
In the only change to the backline, Madosh Tambwe takes over from Werner Kok, who has been rested after playing in all of the Sharks’ games since resumption.
Everitt has explained the number of changes he has made to the pack. “Thomas du Toit is out because of injury and he’s replaced by John-Hubert Meyer at tighthead, while Michael Kumbirai, who joined us from Western Province last year, will have an opportunity to make his debut off the bench,” Everitt said.
“Bringing in JJ van der Mescht (for Ruben van Heerden) in the second row 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 get game time and to see what difference he can make to our pack.”
There is a new loose trio because of injuries to opensider James Venter and No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who are replaced by Henco Venter and Phepsi Buthelezi respectively, with the latter’s place on the flank taken by last week’s hooker, Dylan Richardson.
Everitt has picked former Stormer Dan Jooste at hooker, with Kerron van Vuuren continuing his comeback from injury off the bench.