Sharks coach Robert du Preez to test youngsters against Sunwolves
Buthelezi, Mchunu and Fassi could all start for Du Preez’s team in Saturday’s Super Rugby opener in Singapore
The Sunwolves are not the proverbial Super Rugby wild canines but Sharks coach Robert du Preez seems willing to put his youngsters to the test against them.
His 25-man squad for Saturday’s opener at the Singapore National Stadium has a fair mix of the young and seasoned.
However‚ the additions of loose-forward Phendulani Buthelezi and prop Khuthazani Mchunu are pointers that Du Preez is casting an eye not only on the future‚ but on the rigorous demands of a Super Rugby tournament in a World Cup year.
Exciting utility back Aphelele Fassi may have to start‚ predictably at fullback with Curwin Bosch having sustained a shoulder injury at the weekend.
Du Preez has been happy with the progress the youngsters at the Sharks have made this early in the season.
However‚ he admitted to not having checked up on the preseason progress made by the Japanese outfit.
“All the youngsters are excited and they bring a lot of energy.
“They put a lot of pressure on the guys who have been around but that competition is very healthy and I like that.
“I’m sure that everyone of those players will make the step up when they get the opportunity‚” Du Preez said.
“We don’t know too much about them‚ apart from the players we know because we haven’t seen any of their preseason games.
“It’s going to be a tough battle‚ they’re a good team with a good coach.”
An opening win eluded the Sharks last season.
In fact‚ the Sharks had to wait for the third game to record their first Super Rugby victory of the season and that was against the Sunwolves at home.
The 50-22 win was a scrappy one but the Sharks were happy to collect the bonus point after failing to fire against the Lions (loss) and the Waratahs (draw).
Du Preez said the conditions in Singapore will not be conducive to flowing rugby but what they need most is the win.
“The conditions are going to be humid like they are here in Durban, so it’s always difficult to play rugby there. We’re just going to have to do the basics really well.
“The set-pieces have to function well and the breakdown work is important. We also really need to be physical‚” Du Preez said.
“For us‚ it’s about going there to win and to also bring the points back.”
Sharks touring squad:
Akker van der Merwe
Daniel du Preez
Kerron van Vuuren
Louis Schreuder (captain)
Robert du Preez