Ryan Kankowski is not in good form at the moment
Sharks coach John Plumtree has dropped Ryan Kankowski amongst a number of changes for the clash with the Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
Plumtree explained that the Bok No.8, who played at blindside flank in the loss to the Stormers at Newlands last week, has struggled to find form since returning from Japan.
"Ryan Kankowski is not in good form at the moment. We are still putting a plan in place for him going forward, but I think he's still feeling the effects of the Japanese season, he still hasn't come right.
"He, himself, is battling to work out what's going wrong, it's not easy for him or anyone of us. Right now he's struggling and how he gets back to the required levels will be interesting to see, but it is alarming for me as well because he's one of our better players," he said.
Jean Deysel returns from injury to complete the starting loose trio, with Tera Mtembu getting an opportunity off the bench, and Plumtree added that Willem Alberts may be fit to play some Vodacom Cup this weekend.
"We'll back Tera Mtembu in the loose trio; he's had some time in the Currie Cup and a little in Super Rugby. He's confident about playing at this level. He'll get more time touring with us.
"Willem Alberts has a fitness test this week to see if he'll play a role in the Vodacom Cup this weekend," he said.
Springbok heavyweights Frans Steyn and Jannie du Plessis will start on the bench, and the injured JP Pietersen has been replaced by the experienced Odwa Ndungane.
Steyn has been replaced at fullback by Riaan Viljoen whilst Wiehahn Herbst will start at tighthead in the place of Du Plessis who has had a heavy workload this season.
"JP is probably one of our best players and to lose him at this stage is a massive loss," said a disappointed Plumtree.
"Injuries are really doing their best to try and derail our bid to win the trophy so it's become difficult and stressful for everyone here, the coaches, players and medical team.
Andries Coetzee, on loan from the Lions, could make his Sharks debut off the bench, whilst Tera Mtembu gets an opportunity amongst the replacements as well.
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Sean Robinson, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Lubabalo Mtembu, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Francois Steyn, 22 Andries Coetzee.
Date: Saturday, April 20
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa),Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)