Bosch at fullback against Kings
Bernhard Janse van Rensburg will get the first opportunity to lay claim to the Cell C Sharks No 10 jersey for the duration of the period that Pat Lambie will be absent due to injury.
Lambie, the Springbok pivot and Sharks regular captain, injured a vertebrae early on in the Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Waratahs in Durban last week and will be out of rugby for up to two months. Sharks coach Robert du Preez’s immediate priority then for this Saturday’s Kings Park clash with the Southern Kings was to choose a new captain and a new flyhalf. He has settled on looseforward Tera Mtembu for the former role and Janse van Rensburg for the latter.
Janse van Rensburg, the 2016 South African under-20 flyhalf, was the first name mentioned by Du Preez when he was asked about possible alternative pivots after the Waratahs game. However, Curwin Bosch, who excelled in Lambie’s place in that match and walked away with the man of the match award by scoring 27 of the 37 Sharks points himself, has had to move to fullback for this game as Clement Poitrenaud is injured.
Time will tell whether Du Preez considers Janse van Rensburg a better option than Bosch. It may be that he will select Bosch at flyhalf when Poitrenaud is back in the selection mix. But don’t bet on it. Although Bosch was brilliant when he came on as a replacement, there is a reason why the Sharks coaches have played him mostly as a fullback over the past two seasons and there is still a feeling that Bosch needs to grow defensively before he can become a regular starting flyhalf at Super Rugby level.
Mtembu was a logical choice as captain after he led the side with aplomb for most of the Waratahs match, but it is interesting to note that Daniel du Preez is back in the squad as a member of the bench. This is the first time since midway through last year that Du Preez is in the Sharks group and it will be interesting to see the make-up of the Sharks back row once Du Preez has been properly bled back into the team and has gained full fitness.
Former Western Province player Jacques Vermeulen, meanwhile, gets a chance to stake his claim for a place in the regular Sharks back row by getting his first start for the Durban team on Saturday. He replaces the injured Philip van der Walt at openside flank. The other change to the pack is the wholesale rotation of the front row, with Lourens Adriaanse, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Thomas du Toit getting to start this week. Beast Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen are resting completely this week as per the resting agreement with SA Rugby, but regular hooker Franco Marais is injured.
The other change to the side that beat the Waratahs as Du Preez seeks to improve his depth is the return of veteran Odwa Ndungane on the wing. He replaces Lwazi Mvovo, who is one of the Boks being rested.
Lock Etienne Oosthuizen, who was suspended after the opening match in Brisbane a few weeks ago, makes his return to the squad this week as a member of the bench, as does Garth April, who did well on occasion as the Sharks’ starting flyhalf in 2016.
Cell C Sharks team: 15.Curwin Bosch, 14.Kobus van Wyk, 13.Lukhanyo Am, 12.Andre Esterhuizen, 11.Odwa Ndungane, 10.Bernhard Janse van Rensburg, 9.Cobus Reinach, 8.Tera Mtembu (captain), 7.Jean-Luc du Preez, 6.Jacques Vermeulen, 5.Ruan Botha, 4.Stephan Lewies, 3.Lourens Adriaanse, 2.Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1.Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16.Stephan Coetzee, 17.Juan Schoeman, 18.John-Hubert Meyer, 19.Etienne Ootshuizen, 20.Daniel du Preez, 21.Michael Claasens, 22.Jeremy Ward, 23.Garth April.