Springboks Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi were waiting in the aisles last weekend, but Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has brought them all back into the starting XV for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against the Bulls at Kings Park as he dares not allow any complacency to creep into his high-flying side.
The Sharks have won four games on the trot across the two European competitions and they face a fired up Bulls side that are coming off a fiercely-contested defeat to the Stormers last weekend. Inconsistency has bedevilled the Sharks in the past, and Powell is eager to ensure there is no slip in intensity on Saturday.
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“It’s always good to be able to select your best players against the Bulls, who are coming to our house and always bring a big physical challenge, but on Saturday they will bring a bit more because of that loss,” Powell said on Friday.
“They saved their players from the Champions Cup to target these games, so last weekend’s loss will definitely hurt and they will bring a lot of effort and physicality to get at least one win from these games.
“We’re obviously aware of it, and it’s a really good opportunity for us to still build momentum and cohesion. We would like to be more clinical and we know a quality team like the Bulls only gives you so many opportunities.
“It’s mid-season and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction. There’s still a lot we can do better and we want to build on last week’s performance against the Lions.
“We want to take the opportunities that weren’t taken and if we can play with that flow then that will be great. But there’s an awareness of complacency and we can’t let successive wins breed that.
“We can’t just rock up and think things will happen. We need to really get stuck in and make sure we do our various roles,” Powell said.
Bok front row combine
Nche, Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit combine as an all-Springbok front row, while Kolisi will be joined in the loose trio by Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
Grant Williams will continue as the starting scrumhalf, with Curwin Bosch going well at flyhalf.
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“It’s good to see Curwin slowly but surely getting back to his best form. Credit to the coaches because in pre-season he was in really good form but then unfortunately got injured.
“But the coaches have all been very positive about him. There’s still room for improvement and we will keep chipping away,” Powell said.
Boeta Chamberlain, Marnus Potgieter, Lukhanyo Am, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi (c), Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche.
Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jaden Hendrikse, Lionel Cronje, Yaw Penxe.