– Francois Steyn to start at fullback with Louis Ludik being bracketed on the bench with S’Bura Sithole with the former needing to pass a late fitness test to play.
– Jannie du Plessis returns from injury pushing Wiehahn Herbst down to the bench.
– Ryan Kankowski returns to action via the bench.
– JP Pietersen shifts to the no.11 shirt in place of the injured Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane returns to the starting team wearing no.14.
Coach John Plumtree told the press that he was weary of the Crusaders after their victory in the cape last week.
“The Crusaders’ skill levels are really high, their backs and forwards handle the ball well, so our defensive plan is going to have to be very accurate. The breakdown is also going to be huge and we need to be competitive there. You can’t have a meltdown in an area like the lineouts, it takes good, hard work to get into an attacking situation, and then to lose ball puts you under immense pressure,” said Plumtree on the Sharks site.
“And you don’t want to be doing that against a team like the Crusaders who are able to hold on to the ball for long periods of time. The lineout has been a big focus for us, not only for this match but throughout the competition. We’re operating at around 84% and we’ve been going OK, but it is going to be tough, the Crusaders boast All Black locks. There is a mixture of reasons why the Stormers lineout failed, it’s not one person, it takes a good throw, a good lift, a good jump and hopefully the same thing won’t happen to us. What I want to do this year is develop him, he took his opportunity against the Rebels and I wanted to reward him with a start against the Crusaders. Anton Bresler will get an opportunity to play off bench. You’ve got to have good depth and so it was good to see Pieter-Steph play so well in that game.” He added.
The Sharks host the Crusaders in Druban on Friday, KO 19:05 CAT (18:05 GMT)
1. Tendai Mtawarira , 2. Kyle Cooper , 3. Jannie du Plessis , 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit , 5. Franco van der Merwe , 6. Jacques Botes , 7. Marcell Coetzee , 8. Keegan Daniel (Captain) , 9. Cobus Reinach , 10. Patrick Lambie , 11. JP Pietersen , 12. Meyer Bosman , 13. Paul Jordaan , 14. Odwa Ndungane , 15. Francois Steyn
Replacements :16. Craig Burden , 17. Wiehahn Herbst , 18. Anton Bresler , 19. Ryan Kankowski , 20. Charl McLeod , 21. Riaan Viljoen , 22. Louis Ludik / S’Bura Sithole