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Currie Cup is here!


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 4 Aug 2015 at 10:43
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

The Sharks take on the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday evening in what has to count as the toughest start to their Currie Cup campaign that they could have asked for.

While in years gone by, the Pumas may have been considered a minnow side in the broader South African rugby context, the continued removal of top talent from big teams in the Currie Cup, coupled with some great development work over the last few years, has turned the Lowveld union into a force to be reckoned with in the domestic competition. Few big sides would be at all confident of emerging victorious from Mbombela Stadium these days, even if the Pumas away form remains patchy at best.

Gary Gold put his extended squad through a decent hit out last Friday, with a squad of 33 players (of whom only 31 played) emerging with a hard-fought 33-29 victory over a similarly patchwork Golden Lions outfit. While a number of new players put their hands up, Gold probably won’t stray too far from his first choice outfit for the opener, with the bulk of the pack that started against the Lions likely to be retained. Dale Chadwick and Lourens Adriaanse should be the props, with Marco Wentzel and Etienne Oosthuizen locking behind them.

Kyle Cooper’s fitness remains in doubt (while Franco Marais also didn’t play last weekend due to a niggle) meaning a start at hooker is likely for Monde Hadebe. Khaya Majola and Philip van der Walt should be at 6 and 8 respectively, while Jean-Luc du Preez could pick up a debut start at blindside flank (unless Jean Deysel is passed fit).

Among the backs, things are less clear. S’bura Sithole, at wing, is one of a few guaranteed starters, while one would imagine Joe Pietersen would be included either at flyhalf or fullback. Odwa Ndungane will likely be the other wing, with either Lionel Cronje or SP Marais backed depending on where Pietersen ends up. Michael Claassens may get the nod ahead of Stefan Ungerer (what a decision to make!), while a lot will depend on how Paul Jordaan came through Friday’s encounter when it comes to selecting the centres. Andre Esterhuizen and Heimar Williams will vie for the 12 shirt, with Wandile Mjekevu a useful alternative to Jordaan at 13.

Thomas du Toit’s ability to pack down on either side of the scrum should see him crack the match 22 as reserve prop ahead of Juan Schoeman, despite the latter’s impressive showing on debut against the Lions. Dave McDuling’s versatility could likewise see him come in for a first taste of Currie Cup rugby.

The Sharks teams will be confirmed tomorrow morning.



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