Sharks bring Springbok giants for Bulls clash

On Friday evening, the Sharks will now host the Bulls and both teams have announced their starting teams for the clash.

Picture: @SharksRugby/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The United Rugby Championship South African derbies have been brought forward from February 2022 due to Rounds 7 and 8 being called off due to the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant and most Southern African countries being put on the ‘Red’ list.

The four South African teams would’ve faced Munster, Cardiff, Scarlets and Zebre at home over the two weekends, these teams are already back in Europe and the United Kingdom respectively after a short stay.

On Friday evening, the Sharks will now host the Bulls and both teams have announced their starting teams for the clash.

Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has gone for the kill with his selection, naming almost every returning Springbok available to him. Lukhanyo Am will captain the team with Bok captain Siya Kolisi named in the starting side as well.

“It’s great to have the Boks back with us,” Everitt admitted. “They’ve come back into the squad full of energy and enthusiasm and have acted like true professionals, returning to the Cell C Sharks and showing great discipline and preparation from the Springboks, something they’ve passed on to the younger players.”

Test wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi are also in the mix, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi makes his debut in the black and white jersey, having been signed from the Stormers.

The Sharks starting XV:

15 Anthony Volmink
14 Sbu Nkosi
13 Jeremy Ward
12 Lukhanyo Am (c)
11 Makazole Mapimpi
10 Boeta Chamberlain
9 Ruan Pienaar
8 Phepsi Buthelezi
7 Jeandre Labuschagne
6 Siya Kolisi
5 Hyron Andrews
4 Ruben van Heerden
3 Thomas du Toit (v/c)
2 Bongi Mbonambi*
1 Ntuthuko Mchunu

Replacements:
16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Tito Bonilla, 23 Werner Kok

As for the Bulls, they have not shied away from an exciting match day squad either. The experienced Bismarck Du Plessis starts at hooker, with Gerhard Steenekamp and debutant Robert Hunt completing the first row.

There are some positional switches in the backline with Kurt-Lee Arendse starting at fullback and Richard Kriel earning his URC debut when he lines up on the left wing.

Head coach Jake White seemed very happy to be facing such a talented team in the Sharks: “They’ve got all these international players, that says a lot for their squad. At home with that kind of team, there is a little bit of a buzz now. It’s like a test match for us, and we are looking forward to it.

“We are looking forward to seeing where we are. We will see Marcell Coetzee getting a crack to play against Siya (Kolisi), you get Bismarck du Plessis and Grobbies (Johan Grobbelaar) playing against Bongi (Mbonambi), and that list goes on,” said White.

The Bulls starting XV:

15 Kurt-Lee Arendse
14 Madosh Tambwe
13 David Kriel
12 Cornal Hendricks
11 Richard Kriel
10 Morné Steyn
9 Embrose Papier
8 Elrigh Louw
7 Arno Botha
6 Marcell Coetzee (c)
5 Ruan Nortje
4 Walt Steenkamp
3 Robert Hunt
2 Bismarck du Plessis
1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Sintu Manjezi, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Harold Vorster.

The game will take place at Jonsson Kings Park and will see fans return for the first time since 2020. Kick-off on Friday is at 7 pm.