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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Dan du Preez © Gallo Images

Du Preez boost for the Sharks

The return to fitness of Dan du Preez has given the Cell C Sharks a timely boost ahead of their must-win final Vodacom Super Rugby league match of the season against the Jaguares.

If it turns out that Du Preez doesn’t play it wouldn’t be the first occasion in modern times that a player has been officially cleared to go and then pulled out later in the week, but the No 8 has been included in his regular position at the back of the scrum in a team that hasn’t changed much from the one that lost to the Stormers last week.

Where there is change is in the front-row, where the experience of Beast Mtawarira returns to the starting line-up after he was used off the bench in a tactical move against the strong Stormers scrumming unit in Cape Town. The Sharks scrummed well when Mtawarira was on the field at Newlands and the Sharks will be looking for that from the start against a Jaguares team that until last week’s hiccup at Loftus against the Bulls had picked up impressive momentum.

Mtawarira replaces Juan Schoeman, while there is an additional change on the wing, where Springbok S’bu Nkosi has been ruled out with an ankle injury picked up against the Stormers. He is replaced by Kobus van Wyk, who scored a try as a replacement last week.

The Sharks will be without another member of the current Springbok squad, Jean-Luc du Preez, with the flanker having to sit out another week with the injury sustained in the win over the Lions just short of two weeks ago.

The pressure is on the Sharks, for whom the equation this week is a simple one - they have to win or they miss out on Super Rugby play-off qualification. Of course, they could win and still not make it, as their destiny was taken out of their hands by the defeat in Cape Town, with the Rebels holding onto their top eight spot if they beat the Highlanders in Dunedin.

A Highlanders' home loss is not something that happens often though, so the Sharks are expecting to have something to play for. And as their lock Tyler Paul readily agrees, the pressure is something they relish rather than shy away from.

“You want to play in high pressure games as a professional rugby player and these are the games that make or break players and teams,” said Paul, who was part of the Southern Kings team that shocked the Sharks in Port Elizabeth last year but has subsequently moved up the coast.

“This week is do or die or us, but unfortunately there is another result we have to count on. If that goes our way we will pull out all the stops and if we do that I am sure we will be fine.”

The Sharks were beaten by the Jaguares in the first round fixture in Buenos Aires before the June break for international rugby but Paul reckons there is a big difference between playing in South America and playing at home. He says it is time now for the Sharks to use their advantage.

“Going there is never easy, the travel factor is a major influence, but we can’t use that as any excuse for the result there,” he said. “They are coming here to our home ground and if we can match them upfront and lay a good platform, our backs should do well.”

Cell C Sharks team: 15.Curwin Bosch, 14.Kobus van Wyk, 13.Lukhanyo Am, 12.Andre Esterhuizen, 11.Lwazi Mvovo, 10.Robert du Preez, 9.Louis Schreuder, 8.Daniel du Preez, 7.Jacques Vermeulen, 6.Philip van der Walt, 5.Ruan Botha (captain), 4.Tyler Paul, 3.Thomas du Toit, 2.Akker van der Merwe, 1.Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16.Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17.Juan Schoeman, 18.John-Hubert Meyer, 19.Hyron Andrews, 20.Wian Vosloo, 21.Cameron Wright, 22.Marius Louw, 23.Makazole Mapimpi.


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