Sharks coach Robert du Preez opts to stick with his son at flyhalf
Despite a poor game in loss to the Bulls, Robert du Preez remains in the team to play the Lions on Friday at Ellis Park
Sharks coach Robert du Preez has opted to stick with his namesake son at flyhalf, while Curwin Bosch and Aphelele Fassi swap places at fullback for Friday’s Super Rugby date against the Lions at Ellis Park.
Robert du Preez junior was desperately disappointing in Saturday’s 19-16 home loss to the Bulls. Tactically‚ he was off-colour but detrimentally for the Sharks‚ he fluffed his lines from the kicking tee and missed a crucial and straight-forward tackle on Bulls inside centre Burger Odendaal, which led to outside centre Jesse Kriel’s try.
In an unedifying match of small margins but greater log importance‚ Du Preez was found wanting but the coach has shown confidence in the pivot. The Sharks have yet to win a SA Super Rugby derby this season.
In their defeats to the Stormers and the Bulls‚ they have been outmuscled in no uncertain terms. This has stunted their backline, which has some very good players and Du Preez‚ who is leaving the Sharks at the end of the Super Rugby season to join the Sale Sharks in Manchester‚ has gone missing in those defeats.
Coach Du Preez said Bosch had to start at some point but said they played good rugby against the Bulls without the scoreboard reward.
“Curwin was due for a start and at the beginning of the year‚ he had a couple of niggles and concussion. He never got going early on‚” he said.
“It doesn’t get any easier and it’s a tough assignment in Johannesburg. It’s always tough up there but we’re very positive and although we won everything but the match on Saturday‚ there were some fantastic positives we took out of the game. We’ll take that type of momentum. In the first game against the Bulls‚ we were outplayed and against the Stormers‚ we lost the physical battle, but against the Bulls I thought we played some outstanding rugby.”
There is also the significant matter of the Sharks having three players suspended with hooker Akker van der Merwe also joining the naughty corner. He earned himself a three-week cooling off period for his role in the brawl with his Bulls counterpart Schalk Brits.
Van der Merwe and Brits were both sent off but the Sharks have been forced to start with Kerron van Vuuren at hooker, with the talented Fezokuhle Mbatha on the bench.
Khuthazani Mchunu makes way for Juan Schoeman at prop, with young lock JJ van der Mescht set to make his Super Rugby debut from the bench.
Du Preez said Van der Merwe’s loss was a big one but the youngsters in place have an opportunity to step up.
He also added that he is focused on his job in ensuring that the team wins.
“We do have some good depth with the youngsters that are in the system and Kerron has done some really great work for us. A young guy like Fez has really been great for us but it’s always tough to lose a hooker of Akker’s calibre. We’ve also lost Craig Burden but we’re good for now, but these guys have to step up. It’s a good opportunity for both of us‚” Du Preez said.
“However‚ I’ve got a job to do‚ that’s to make the team win and that’s what we need to concentrate on this weekend. I can’t be bothered by sideshows.”
15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 André Esterhuizen‚ 11 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10 Rob du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder (c)‚ 8 Dan du Preez‚ 7 Jacques Vermeulen‚ 6 Luke Stringer‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 Ruben van Heerden‚ 3 Coenie Oosthuizen‚ 2 Kerron van Vuuren‚ 1 Beast Mtawarira.
16 Fez Mbatha‚ 17 Juan Schoeman‚ 18 Thomas du Toit‚ 19 JJ van der Mescht‚ 20 Philip van der Walt‚ 21 Grant Williams‚ 22 Kobus van Wyk‚ 23 Aphelele Fassi.