Sharks coach Robert du Preez looks on during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Sharks at Christchurch Stadium, New Zealand on May 3, 2019. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/HAGEN HOPKINS
Sharks coach Robert du Preez looks on during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Sharks at Christchurch Stadium, New Zealand on May 3, 2019. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/HAGEN HOPKINS

With the prospect of an unexpected unbeaten tour looming large‚ Sharks coach Robert du Preez has made three changes to his side for Saturday’s match against the Chiefs.

Hyron Andrews and Philip van der Walt will start at lock and No 8‚ coming in for Rubin van Heerden and Daniel du Preez. Marius Louw replaces Andre Esterhuizen at inside centre. With Akker van der Merwe returning home with a shoulder niggle‚ rising star Fezokuhle Mbatha fills in for him on the bench.

The Sharks have had an unexpectedly decent tour‚ even though they have made it a habit of changing their fortunes on the road.

In the first week‚ they snapped a 19-year losing streak against the Waratahs in Australia with a 23-17 win. The following week‚ they gave the Crusaders one of their sternest home tests in the past two years‚ with the reigning champions escaping with a draw.

The Chiefs are the weakest of the five New Zealand sides but they put 50 past a Bulls side that have beaten the Sharks twice this season.

Colin Cooper’s side has not hit it’s straps yet and probably will not for the rest of the season. However‚ they look a far more improved and better organised team compared to the start of the season. Last week‚ they rescued a game that looked to be lost against the Highlanders in Dunedin and salvaged a well-deserved draw.

Du Preez‚ who unsurprisingly has  persisted with Curwin Bosch at flyhalf‚ said he has been happy with the form his charges have exhibited on tour.

“We know how tough it is to tour and how tough this competition is‚ so to beat the Waratahs for the first time in 19 years in Sydney‚ that’s a great feat as was the draw against the Crusaders‚ very nearly a win. We’re very pleased with where we are‚” Du Preez said.


Teams

Chiefs: 15 Solomon Alaimalo‚ 14 Sean Wainui‚ 13 Tumua Manu‚ 12 Anton Lienert-Brown‚ 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo‚ 10 Marty McKenzie‚ 9 Brad Weber (c)‚ 8 Luke Jacobson‚ 7 Mitchell Karpik‚ 6 Jesse Parete‚ 5 Mitchell Brown‚ 4 Tyler Ardron‚ 3 Nepo Laulala‚ 2 Nathan Harris‚ 1 Atu Moli. Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart‚ 17 Ryan Coxon‚ 18 Angus Ta’avao‚ 19 Taleni Seu‚ 20 Pita Gus Sowakula‚ 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi‚ 22 Shaun Stevenson‚ 23 Alex Nankivell

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi‚ 14 Sbu Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10 Curwin Bosch‚ 9 Louis Schreuder (c)‚ 8 Philip van der Walt‚ 7 Jean-Luc du Preez‚ 6 Jacques Vermeulen‚ 5 Ruan Botha‚ 4 Hyron Andrews‚ 3 Coenie Oosthuizen‚ 2 Kerron van Vuuren‚ 1 Thomas du Toit. Replacements: 16 Fezokuhle Mbatha‚ 17 Mzamo Majola‚ 18 John-Hubert Meyer‚ 19 Tyler Paul‚ 20 Luke Stringer‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Robert du Preez‚ 23 Kobus van Wyk