Rugby World Cup-winning centre Lukhanyo Am returns to lead the Sharks as they seek to haul in the Bulls at the top of the Currie Cup table.
The Sharks start the weekend in second-place but could go into the match as low as fourth if Western Province beat the Pumas in Cape Town on Friday and the Lions earn a bonus-point win over the Cheetahs. Results on the bye weekend went the Sharks way one could argue, but they need to back that up with a strong home performance if they are to establish themselves as realistic Currie Cup contenders.
During Super Rugby Unlocked the Bulls overwhelmed the Sharks in Pretoria and the men from Durban will be eager to avenge their biggest loss of 2020.
Am back at 13
Am returns to the Sharks starting lineup at outside centre with Jeremy Ward reverting to the bench as one of the handful of changes made by coach Sean Everitt.
Among the other changes, Daniel Jooste takes over from Kerron van Vuuren at hooker in a rotational switch while Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe return to the loose forward trio. Springbok winger Sbu Nkosi gets a start and is set to add his brand of firepower to the exciting backline.
Expecting a fierce battle up front Everitt has loaded the bench with forwards in the 6-2 split made famous by Rassie Erasmus’ RWC-winning squad.
Sharks and Springbok prop Thomas du Toit anticipates a terrific battle up front. The weather forecast indicates a strong possibility of rain before and during the match which will lend even more importance to the tight-five battle.
“As always with the Bulls, we feel that we really need to up our game because you have to give them credit for the great rugby they’ve been playing, and it shows,” Du Toit said.
“We know we need to deliver our best performance if we want to beat these guys, that’s going to be vital.”
“It’s an absolutely massive game for us this weekend, one we’re very excited about.”
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Jaden Hendrickse, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Match information – Sharks vs Bulls
Date: Saturday, 12 December 2020
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Marius Jonker
TV: SuperSport Rugby and Grandstand