The Cell C Sharks host the Pumas at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Friday evening at 7pm hoping to make it three from three after a full house of log points from our opening two Currie Cup fixtures.
Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has made just two changes to the team that defeated Free State in Bloemfontein last weekend, both of them rotational and opting not to make too many changes to a winning formula.
After an impressive debut off the bench last week, Luke Stringer has been handed a start in only his second Currie Cup match for the Cell C Sharks, swapping places with Wian Vosloo who plays off the bench.
Similarly, the exciting young Aphelele Fassi also gets a first start, at fullback, with Curwin Bosch slotting in amongst the replacements to make an impact later in the game.
There is further good news as Akker van der Merwe returns to the side (named on the bench) after missing the opening two rounds.
Tighthead prop John-Hubert Meyer, part of a dominant scrum last weekend, explains in the lead-up to this match against the Pumas that giving due credit and respect to the opposition is critical of this team is to achieve their aims.
“We focused on not disrespecting our opponents, but we were slow out of the blocks which gave Free State hope,” he explains. “But in the second half we stuck to our processes and that got us the result.”
Including the warm-up match against French opposition, the performances from the Cell C Sharks have all been victorious, but the all-important focus is on remaining unbeaten.
“We had a great start against Bordeaux and took that physicality into the game against the Bulls and that was the start to the competition that we wanted. Taking five points off the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein was important and we won’t read too much into that game, but move on. We know we have a lot of work to get through.”
The Pumas beat Griquas in their opening clash but lost heavily to Western Province last week when they went down 57-28 and will be out to upset the Cell C Sharks at our home ground and get their campaign back on track.
“The Pumas come off a big loss and will be hurting and will look at our performance against Free State and believe they have a chance against us,” he points out.
“We’re expecting a really physical battle in the opening 20 minutes so the forwards are going to have to front up and remove all hope from them in that early period of the game.
“We know they’re all about physicality from their pack, they’ll want to bully us. But if we can remove that threat, I think we have the team to win. Our forwards have mentally prepared well for this and with our scrums and mauls going so well in the first two weeks, we’re backing ourselves.”
The Cell C Sharks
1. Juan Schoeman
2. Chiliboy Ralepelle (Captain)
3. John-Hubert Meyer
4. Gideon Koegelenberg
5. Hyron Andrews
6. Luke Stringer
7. Tyler Paul
8. Daniel du Preez
9. Louis Schreuder
10. Robert du Preez
11. Lwazi Mvovo
12. Marius Louw
13. Jeremy Ward
14. Kobus van Wyk
15. Aphelele Fassi
16. Akker van der Merwe
17. Khutha Mchunu
18. Andrew Evans
19. Wian Vosloo
20. Cameron Wright
21. Johan Deysel
22. Curwin Bosch