Added to that the Waratahs’ prospects of being the first team to beat the table-topping Sharks at home this season nosedived when try-scoring freak Israel Folau was ruled out with a bruised throat. Folau, who will only join the Waratahs at the weekend after being clear by a specialist in Sydney, has crossed for eight five-pointers in just four games – more than half his side’s total number of tries.
With a game in hand, the Waratahs sit fourth on the overall table, just three points behind the Sharks. An away win could see the Tahs regain pole position, but Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has warned that the Jake White-coached side will be looking for vengeance after last weekend’s loss to the Bulls.
2012: Waratahs won 34-30, Sydney
2011: Sharks won 26-21, Durban
2010: Waratahs won 25-21, Sydney
2009: Waratahs won 16-12, Durban
2008: Waratahs won 28-13, Sydney (semifinal)
2008: Waratahs won 25-10, Sydney
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.
Waratahs: 15 Jonno Lance, 14 Rob Horne, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)