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Rugby | Currie Cup

Thomas back in Sharks starting team



Cell C Sharks coach Robert du Preez has reverted mostly to the continuity of earlier in the season for Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal against the Golden Lions at Jonssons Kings Park.

Du Preez experimented for last week’s trip to Kimberley to play Griquas, with Curwin Bosch moving to flyhalf and Robert du Preez junior to inside centre in a rejigged backline. Du Preez senior made it clear though that Bosch, as the back-up flyhalf, was only being given a run in the position so that the Sharks wouldn’t be caught short if there was an injury.

He hinted that he would return to type this week, which is what he has done, with Marius Louw coming back at inside centre to partner Jeremy Ward in the midfield, while Du Preez returns to flyhalf and Bosch to fullback. The man to drop out is Apehelele Fassi, who played fullback against Griquas but will play his first Currie Cup semifinal off the bench.

With Akker van der Merwe being retained as the starting hooker, the one change from last week that Du Preez is continuing with is the captaincy. Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder will lead the starting team, as he did in Kimberley, with Chiliboy Ralepelle, appointed as the captain for the season, playing off the bench.

The only change to the pack that did well last week is the return of Thomas du Toit as the starting tighthead prop. Coenie Oosthuizen, making his way back from a long injury lay-off, will play off the bench and should have benefitted from getting a full 80 minutes last weekend.

It is interesting to note that although Jean-Luc du Preez will be going into his second match since returning from his own injury, the flanker will again play off the bench, leaving Tyler Paul and Jacques Vermeulen to continue their good partnership on the flank.

With eight reserves permitted for the Currie Cup play-off phase as opposed to the seven in the league stage, it is also interesting to note that Du Preez has included two loose-forwards in Jean-Luc and Luke Stringer in addition to his three front-row back-up players. Of course Tyler Paul can easily move to second row from the blindside as he played plenty of the Super Rugby season as a lock. There are also some, such as former Sharks head coach Gary Gold, who believe Jean-Luc's twin brother, Dan, would make a good lock.

Cell C Sharks team: Curwin Bosch, Sbu Nkosi, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Lwazi Mvovo, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder (captain), Dan du Preez, Tyler Paul, Jacques Vermeulen, Hyron Andrews, Gideon Koegelenberg, Thomas du Toit, Akker van der Merwe, Juan Schoeman. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Mzamo Majola, Coenie Oosthuizen, Luke Stringer, Jean-Luc du Preez, Cameron Wright, Leolin Zas, Aphelele Fassi.



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