Sharks coach Sean Everitt. Picture: CHRIS HYDE/GETTY IMAGES
Sharks coach Sean Everitt. Picture: CHRIS HYDE/GETTY IMAGES

The Sharks are hoping that playing against the touring British & Irish Lions on Wednesday will prepare them for the new northern hemisphere United Rugby Championship this year, coach Sean Everitt said as he named his line-up on Monday. 

The Sharks are one of four SA sides that will compete in an expanded competition, previously known as the PRO14, against Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh clubs next season.

“The chief goal is that we go into this game well prepared and for the players to understand what’s coming their way. Not many of our players have international experience and that includes Super Rugby, so this is a big challenge,” Everitt said at a news conference.

“In Europe, there is a big emphasis on ball in play and we have had a plan to increase our tempo too in recent matches. It is something we have been working on and we do want to play at a high intensity because that’s obviously preparation for later in the year and this game is going to be a test of where we are at.”

It is the second match for the visiting Lions, who kicked off their tour with a comfortable win over their Johannesburg namesake, the Gauteng Lions, putting pressure on the Sharks to provide more of a challenge on Wednesday.

“We are also a proud rugby nation and we don’t want to be rolled over by touring teams so we have an opportunity to improve on the [local] Lions’ performance at the weekend and we are certainly going to grab that opportunity with both hands,” the Sharks coach promised.

They made only one change from the team that narrowly lost to Western Province in the Currie Cup last week with Phepsi Buthelezi returning from mild concussion to captain the team.

The Sharks have had to move the match from their home base in Durban to Ellis Park in Johannesburg because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Reuters

Sharks squad: 15-Manie Libbok, 14-Werner Kok, 13-Jeremy Ward, 12-Marius Louw, 11-Thaakir Abrahams, 10-Curwin Bosch, 9-Jaden Hendrikse, 8-Phepsi Buthelezi (capt), 7-Thembelani Bholi, 6-James Venter, 5. Hyron Andrews, 4-Ruben van Heerden, 3-Khutha Mchunu, 2-Fez Mbatha, 1-Khwezi Mona Replacements: 16-Kerron van Vuuren, 17-Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18-Wiehahn Herbst, 19-JJ van der Mescht, 20-Reniel Hugo, 21-Dylan Richardson, 22-Grant Williams, 23-Anthony Volmink.

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