Sharks unleash Bismarck on the Bulls
Sharks unleash Bismarck on the BullsSHARE
The Sharks have made just one change to the team to face the Bulls in a crucial all-South African Super Rugby derby on Saturday.
Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis will start his first game of the season at Loftus Versfeld – having slowly worked his way back to fitness, after undergoing knee surgery after an injury sustained in a Rugby Championship game almost a year ago.
Du Plessis played a few club games in May, before coming off the bench for the Boks in the four-nation series last month.
He also played off the bench in the 22-20 win over the Blues last week.
Du Plessis replaced Kyle Cooper at hooker – re-uniting an all-Bok front row – with the latter dropping down to the replacement bench.
Having come out of the encounter with the Blues without any serious injuries, the Sharks opted for continuity in selection ahead of the daunting trip to Pretoria.
Pat Lambie reaches a milestone in this match, his 50th outing in the competition since making his debut in 2010.
Last week – against the Blues – he took his Super Rugby record to over 500 points (having scored 157 this year).
Last week's pack dismantled the Blues at scrum time in particular and laid a wonderful platform for a nail-biting win, and against the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday, a similar effort against a physical opponent is needed if the Sharks are to come away with their stated aim.
"We've always gone up there and known how we want to play the Bulls and that's worked for us at times and other times we've been physically dominated," the Sharks' stand-in coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said.
"We are very aware of their physicality and certainly we know we need to be physical if we want to be in that game.
"However, we also have to go up there and play our game to go and get the result we want. And that is to come back with a win to have any chance of staying in this competition.
"We have some talented players, some talented backs, and although we don't have a huge number of backs, with what we've got we can certainly play exciting rugby. We know we have to keep the ball in hand for long periods of time against the Bulls and that doesn't change regardless of the style of rugby we want to play."
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Butch James, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Edwin Hewitt, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandré Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Jaco van Tonder.
Date: Saturday, July 6
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.15 (17.15 GMT)
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)