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Sharks set to showcase their Springbok riches against Lions in URC

Siya Kolisi is set to be part of star-studded Sharks team to face the Lions on Saturday. Picture: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Siya Kolisi is set to be part of star-studded Sharks team to face the Lions on Saturday. Picture: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published Jan 19, 2022

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Durban - It will be a very different-looking Sharks combination that takes the field against the Lions on Saturday compared to the wet-behind-the-ears lot that began the United Rugby Championship away to Munster last September.

Sean Everitt’s men were without ten Springboks who were in Australia on Rugby Championship duty and while they made good progress over the course of a four-match tour of Ireland and the UK, those senior players were sorely missed.

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A few of them were back when the Bulls were well beaten 30-16 on December 3 in Durban, but now that the URC is resuming in earnest, the full might of the Sharks is to be deployed for the first time in this competition.

In the forwards, that means the likes of Bok captain Siya Kolisi; a Bok front row of Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche plus No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe (back from months of injury convalescence).

If you add in the experienced second row of Ruben van Heerden and Hyron Andrews, and Scottish international flank Dylan Richardson, that is an impressive pack and Everitt will have plenty more oomph playing off the bench.

The backline is also resplendent with green and gold. A back three of Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi oozes attacking intent.

The midfield is likely to feature former Wallabies centre Ben Tapuai, who has the strength and experience to punch holes in defences and set up play for midfield teammate Lukhanyo Am.

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The Sharks have been trying to fill the massive hole left by Andre Esterhuizen for some time, and they are hoping that Tapuai will do the job.

Tapuai played six Super Rugby seasons with the Reds and played in 2011 final when the Queenslanders beat the Crusaders. More recently, he won an English Premiership title with Harlequins.

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At scrumhalf, there is a comeback in store for Jaden Hendrikse who broke an ankle playing for the Boks against the Pumas last September. And backing him on the bench is Bok tourist Grant Williams, who will provide explosive pace off the bench late in the game.

All in all, it is a potentially lethal Sharks team that will visit Emirates Airline Park on Saturday and while they will be rusty, there should be plenty of signs of how good the Sharks potentially can be.

IOL Sport

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