The Sharks have had to make a late change to the team named to face the Reds at Kings Park after Pieter-Steph du Toit was ruled out of the match with a knee injury.
“There was disappointing news today, Pieter-Steph du Toit has hurt his knee and won’t be available,” explained Director of Rugby Jake White. He confirmed that Stephan Lewies will now start in his place.
With Jean Deysel taking a bang on the knee (he is only expected to be out for one week), Tera Mtembu has been given a chance, while Lewies, JP Pietersen and S’bura Sithole are all give the opportunity to impress.
“Odwa’s father’s passed away and Paul Jordaan has gone for a clean-out on his knee which gives me an opportunity to see the next batch,” White explained.
Lewies had a good Currie Cup campaign last year, featuring in the last five games including the successful final, and White has been impressed so far with what he’s seen. Enough to give the athletic youngster a start.
“If you look back to that bullocking run of his, he’s pretty quick. We’re trying to groom callers in lineouts for South Africa as well as well as locally, guys who can call and jump, and to have two players like that in Stephan and Pieter-Steph is a real bonus for us.
“So the loss of Pieter-Steph opens the door for another opportunity to someone else, but we’re replacing like for like.”
White was still contemplating who would take the empty spot on the bench.
“We must make sure we get the balance right, in terms of who takes Stephan Lewies’ place, but it means there are opportunities for others to come in,” he added.
He was also happy to have Pat Lambie back.
“As much as Frans did a relatively good job, he wasn’t a 10 and it was a bit of a disruption in the way we attacked.
“Frans admitted himself that he was a bit rusty. But he understands how a 10 wants things, and moving back to 12 means he will be more of an understanding 12.
“He’s a mature player, what he got out of playing at flyhalf last week will make him a much better player.”
Sharks – revised: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 TBC, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 Jaco van Tonder.
Date: Saturday, March 15
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)