Sharks coach John Plumtree has tweaked his backline and brought back skipper Keegan Daniel into the starting XV for the top-of-the-table clash with the Lions in Johannesburg this weekend.
In the wake of the Springbok World Cup squad announcement Sibusiso Sithole has been moved across to the right wing to replace Odwa Ndungane who is on his way to New Zealand, while Lwazi Mvovo comes straight back to take back his No.11 jersey.
Plumtree stated earlier this week that Marius Joubert is not fit enough to play Currie Cup rugby, so veteran utility back Stefan Terblanche moves off the bench to replace Joubert at outside centre and resume his midfield partnership with Meyer Bosman.
At scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman has been moved to the bench to make room for Charl McLeod who sat on the sidelines in the underwhelming performance against the Leopards in Durban last week.
The only change in the forward pack comes on the side of the scrum where Keegan Daniel replaces last week's captain Jacques Botes who moves back to the replacements bench.
Hoffman and Adi Jacobs are the only backline players on a bench which features physical Springbok loose forward Jean Deysel, and Plumtree explained that the split was necessary in order to deal with the altitude factor and the fact that his team face the Blue Bulls in Pretoria next week.
"We decided to go with the 5-2 split early in the week obviously because of the altitude and there are going to be a couple of big games coming up and to be able to freshen up in the second half is going to be important," he said.
The match against the Lions will determine which of the teams finish the first round of fixtures on top of the Currie Cup standings, as both have lost just one game, and Plumtree is expecting a fierce test from fellow Kiwi John Mitchell's team.
"The Lions are a lot more organised now, they're starting to believe in what they're doing, they've got some consistency to their performances and when you get that and get some success, you start believing. They have a bit more belief and trust in one another and that's important," he commented.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
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