Sean Everitt. Picture: JOE ALLISON
Sean Everitt. Picture: JOE ALLISON

Sharks coach Sean Everitt has not quite thrown the baby out with the bath water‚ but injuries have forced him to trust his youngsters for Saturday’s critical Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Pumas in Mbombela.

His fresh starting 15 sees Phendulani Buthelezi at eighthman‚ Dylan Richardson at open side flank‚ JJ van der Mescht at lock and Dan Jooste at hooker. John-Hubert Meyer replaces Thomas du Toit at tighthead prop as the Sharks make changes that appear to be a response to the bullying they received at the hands of the Bulls recently.

Loose-forward Thembelani Bholi and prop Michael Kumbirai are set for their Sharks debuts should they come off the bench‚ but the experience in the backline remains for the Sharks with Madosh Tambwe starting at wing.

If there is a coach who knows what it is like to lose against the Pumas‚ it is Everitt. While he has rung his rotational changes‚ he understands how teams such as the Pumas tend to play above themselves when confronted by one of the big teams.

An example was their most recent performance against the Stormers when they lost a game they should have won.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of the Pumas a few times. The Pumas in Mbombela are dangerous and players at the smaller unions want to get contracts at the bigger unions. Everyone wrote them off after the first game‚ but they showed their potential against the Griquas in Kimberley‚” Everitt said.

“They probably deserved to win against the Stormers‚ so they’d see themselves as a tad unlucky not to win that game. There’s no underestimating them and we’ve seen what they can do.”

Sharks assistant coach Brent Janse van Rensburg worked at the Pumas‚ but Everitt is more concerned by how his young team needs to improve on Saturday.

“This week was spent more on ourselves where we’ve looked at where we need to improve. Rugby has changed in the past two years and the laws are a little different. Brent has insight into what motivates them and what makes them successful. This week though has been focused on the Sharks and not on the Pumas‚” Everitt said.

Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok‚ 14 Sibusiso Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain)‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Madosh Tambwe‚ 10 Curwin Bosch‚ 9 Sanele Nohamba‚ 8 Phepsi Buthelezi‚ 7 Henco Venter‚ 6 Dylan Richardson‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 JJ van der Mescht‚ 3 John-Hubert Meyer‚ 2 Dan Jooste‚ 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.

Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren‚ 17 Mzamo Majola‚ 18 Michael Kumbirai‚ 19 Ruben van Heerden‚ 20 Thembelani Bholi‚ 21 Grant Williams‚ 22 Jeremy Ward‚ 23 Yaw Penxe.

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