While the Sharks have had to deal with the odd injury here and there, they have largely had it their own way in terms of player rotation this Currie Cup.
Now, as the Tafel Lager Griquas loom tomorrow at 5pm in Kimberley, there have been a few changes made – injury enforced and otherwise – but the real issue is trying to reward everyone with game time.
Coach Robert du Preez has done some simple rotation of the front row with Franco Marais coming back into the No 2 jersey and Juan Schoeman lining up next to him.
Akker van der Merwe and Thomas du Toit drop to the bench in what will be a big impact should the Sharks need it on the hard grounds of Kimberly.
The forwards have worked tirelessly for the Sharks, and probably deserve a rest against the bottom of the log Griquas, but in the backs, Lukhanyo Am is not available through injury so Marius Louw easily slots in. Odwa Ndungane also returns from injury to replace College Rovers flyer Tythan Adams while the bench sees Hilton schoolboy star Tristan Blewett line up for a chance at a first Currie Cup cap.
“Tristan has been part of our Super Rugby squad since the end of last year, and he is a guy with a great work ethic and he is a real energizer in the squad set up,” Du Preez said in praise of the 21-year-old. “It is fantastic for a guy like that to get an opportunity.”
Even with the changes made, there is not much that the Sharks are losing out on. The Sharks have so much talent waiting in the wings that the coach admits it is a hard task to reward everyone with game time.
“It is important that we employ the whole squad and we keep everyone keen,” Du Preez said. “There is great competition in the greater squad set-up too. You think about John-Hubert Meyer and Mzamo Majola, those are guys who are really a big part of the set-up and they are not getting game time now; it is important that we manage those guys going forward.
“Another guy is Rhyno Smith who is losing out this week. He was great against Western Province – he kicked the ball over from the touchline to win us the game, he scored the try against the Pumas to win us the game …
“So while it is fantastic to have guys like that in our set-up, we would like to give them more game time.”