The Sharks have left the majority of their font-line players out of the squad for their preparation match against the Griquas in Durban on Sunday.
DURBAN – The Sharks team to play Griquas on Sunday in a preparation match at Jonsson Kings Park shows little resemblance to the side that played in the Currie Cup final a month ago but there are still plenty of familiar faces.
The front-line players that did heavy duty in the Currie Cup have been placed into a conditioning squad and will not see action until the third or fourth of the four matches that the Sharks will play in this series.
The players on duty this weekend are those that saw little action in the Currie Cup because they were either injured or on the fringes of selection.
Thus we see key players in hooker Kerron van Vuuren back in the front row and James Venter is at openside flank.
These two were first-choice players when the Sharks were setting Super Rugby alight early last year but, towards the end of the Currie Cup, they found themselves behind Dan Jooste and Dylan Richardson respectively.
Another regular in the tight five from early last year is lock Hyron Andrews, who found himself behind youngster JJ van der Mescht after Andrews had been given compassionate leave for Covid reasons.
Van der Mescht in fact partners Andrews, with stalwart Ruben van Heerden part of the conditioning squad.
Phespi Buthelezi and Thembelani Bholi complete the loose trio with Venter.
There is a brand new halfback combination, with Manie Libbok getting a chance at flyhalf and Grant Williams starting at scrumhalf — Curwin Bosch is not involved and the back-up 10 is Jordan Chait, while Jaden Hendrikse will come on at 9 in the second half.
Experienced captain Jeremy Ward leads the side from outside centre and he is partnered in the midfield by exciting youngster Murray Koster.
At fullback, Aphelele Fassi continues his comeback from the shoulder injury that kept him on the sidelines for most of 2020.
Sharks (15-1): Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Jeremy Ward (capt), Murray Koster, Antony Volminck, Manie Libbok, Grant Williams, Phepsi Buthelezi, Thembelani Bhosi, James Venter, Hyron Andrews, JJ van der Mescht, Michael Kumberai, Kerron van Vuuren, Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuka Mchunu, John-Hubert Meyer, Reniel Hugo, Mpilo Gumede, Jaden Hendrikse, Jordan Chait, Thaakir Abrahams.