Ox Nche of the Sharks tackles Viliame Mata of Edinburgh Rugby. Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Benetton next on the hit list for the Sharks

Sharks prepare for Benetton clash in United Rugby Championship, focusing on improvement and continuity in team selection.


Ox Nche of the Sharks tackles Viliame Mata of Edinburgh Rugby. Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The Sharks are gearing up for a crucial United Rugby Championship Round 16 encounter against Italian side Benetton at Kings Park on Saturday.

Despite the change in tournament focus, the Sharks remain committed to growth and improvement as they look to fine-tune their performances.

Sharks Maintain Continuity in Team Selection

Coach John Plumtree has made minimal changes to the side that defeated Clermont last weekend, aiming to maintain continuity in team selection and the way the team continues to gel.

In the forwards, Corne Rahl replaces Emile van Heerden at lock, while Gerbrandt Grobler starts at flank, with Vincent Tshituka shifting to No.8 in place of the injured Phepsi Buthelezi.

Francois Venter replaces Ethan Hooker at centre in the only change in the backline.

Focus on Improvement Despite Change in Competition

Assistant coach Warren Whitely emphasised that despite the change in title aspirations, the Sharks’ focus remains on using this match to improve their performances.

“What we’ve made clear is that after our review of the Clermont game, there were things we felt that we need to work on and be better at,” Whiteley said.

“This weekend allows us to be better, even though it’s a different competition. We will need to be better in the final and that’s why our focus is on this week, to be better than we were against Clermont and improve where we can.”

Sharks Injury Update

The Sharks continue to be without several key players due to injury, including Coenie Oosthuizen, Curwin Bosch, Dylan Richardson, George Cronje, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Marnus Potgieter, Muller du Plessis, Nevaldo Fleurs, and Zee Mkhabela.

Starting Lineup and Replacements

The Sharks starting lineup features a strong mix of experience and youth, with captain Lukhanyo Am leading the side from outside centre.

The forward pack includes Springbok stars Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, and Ox Nche, while the backline boasts the exciting talents of Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, and Makazole Mapimpi.

Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Lappies Labuschagne, 20 Tino Mavesere, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Diego Appolis.

Match Details

The Sharks vs Benetton match will kick off at 16:05 local time (14:05 GMT) on Saturday, May 11, at Kings Park in Durban.

The match will be officiated by referee Mike Adamson, with Morné Ferreira and Hanru van Rooyen as assistant referees and Hollie Davidson as the TMO.