Coach sticks with his son at flyhalf
Sharks coach Robert du Preez has again persisted with picking his son Robert du Preez at flyhalf for Saturday’s crucial Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Curwin Bosch‚ the Sharks’ best flyhalf this season‚ will again start at fullback where he replaces the injured Aphelele Fassi as Bosch missed last week’s 12-9 win against the Stormers in Cape Town.
The rest of the team remains unchanged, with Juan Schoeman returning to the bench as loose-head prop cover.
It’s the Sharks first play-off in Canberra since the 2001 final, where one of the great Brumbies sides brushed the Sharks aside 36-6 for the first of their two Super Rugby titles.
The Sharks’ record in Canberra isn’t a pretty one, with only two wins in the Australian capital in the past 10 years.
They won there 27-22 two years ago but lost 24-17 last year. Their other victory was a 29-26 triumph back in 2012.
The Sharks have generally struggled in Australia‚ with two losses there last year.
In their one game there this season‚ they snapped a 19-year losing streak against the Waratahs when they beat them 23-15 in Parramatta.
Bosch‚ who’s drawn the short end of Du Preez’s favouritism stick when it comes to the flyhalf berth and his son‚ was at the heart of that ground-breaking win.
The win came at the start of a three-match tour, when the Sharks went on to draw against the Crusaders and lose narrowly against the Chiefs.
The irritable Du Preez hasn’t taken kindly to criticism this season and has referred to the media as “cockroaches”.
However‚ the Sharks have been inconsistent this season, and the mixed quality of the SA conference has allowed them to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Sharks captain Louis Schreuder said the Brumbies‚ who topped the Australian conference‚ aren’t a team to be taken lightly.
“They’re the log leaders in the Australian Conference so they’re not in the quarterfinals by chance‚” Schreuder said.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 Sbu Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 Andre Esterhuizen‚ 11 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10 Rob du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder (capt)‚ 8 Dan du Preez‚ 7 Tyler Paul‚ 6 Jacques Vermeulen‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 Ruben van Heerden‚ 3 Coenie Oosthuizen‚ 2 Kerron van Vuuren‚ 1 Mzamo Majola.
Subs: 16 Cullen Collopy‚ 17 Juan Schoeman‚ 18 Thomas du Toit‚ 19 Gideon Koegelenberg‚ 20 Luke Stringer‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Jeremy Ward‚ 23 Rhyno Smith.