Sharks target strong Super Rugby start against Lions


File: Lubabalo Mtembu of the Sharks during the 2017 Currie Cup rugby match between the Lions and Sharks at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on 12 August 2017.

JOHANNESBURG - Sharks coach Robert du Preez is hoping to set a good precedent for the season when his side, led by lock Ruan Botha, take on the Lions in their opening Super Rugby match of 2018 on Saturday at Ellis Park, in Johannesburg.

“This is an important game and a great start will set the tone for our campaign.  We are excited to go out there and play,” said Du Preez.

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“This squad has worked extremely hard in the pre-season and what’s especially pleasing to see is the vibe and excitement in the group.

“Every player was given an opportunity during the warm-up games and so many of them put their hands up, which made it extremely difficult to decide on our match-day 23.  Naturally, the guys who have been left out will feel desperately disappointed as they have all put in the hard yards.  I stressed the fact that this campaign is going to be a squad effort and every guy will be called upon, at different stages, to contribute to the team’s goals.”

Sharks team:15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Sbu Nkosi, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Makazole Mapimpi 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Cameron Wright, 8. Keegan Daniel, 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 6. Philip van der Walt, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Ruan Botha (c), 3. Thomas du Toit, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Juan Schoeman.

Replacements: 16. Akker van der Merwe, 17. John-Hubert Meyer, 18. Beast Mtawarira, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Daniel du Preez, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Curwin Bosch, 23. Kobus van Wyk. - African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Michael Sherman