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Am returns for Sharks

Cell C Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am returns to the starting lineup in the only change ahead of their final round robin Currie Cup clash against Western Province.

Lukhanyo Am
Gallo Images/Steve Haag

The sensational centre has recovered from a couple of injury niggles and slots in at outside centre at the expense of Tristan Blewett. The 21-year-old made a good account of himself in the Sharks’ previous two outings and will provide cover off the bench.

The rest of the starting XV is unchanged after the Sharks' 24-10 win over the Lions a fortnight ago and the only hurdle in their way is shaking off the usual rust after a bye week.

Coach Rob du Preez had the luxury of his Springbok contingent returning to Durban this week but he opted against slotting them into the starting lineup. Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jean-Luc du Preez and Louis Schreuder will add some serious firepower off the bench.

Du Preez held his Boks back as he looks to give his Currie Cup regulars another shot to prove themselves before the knockout stages.

“Except for Lukhanyo who is starting after a knee and ankle niggle, we’ve kept the same side that played against the Lions. We thought playing the returning Boks off the bench would give the guys who played well the last time an opportunity and then we will select our side for the semi-final,” Du Preez said on Thursday.

“We’re very pleased to have the guys coming back from the Boks and I’ve always said it’s going to be a squad effort. I think we’ve achieved that but this game is really important and we’re approaching it like a quarter-final.”

Fire will be met with fire on Saturday, as Western Province have opted to bring their Springboks into the starting lineup. Tighthead prop Wilco Louw, who made his Bok debut in their 25-24 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday, is straight into Province’s front row.

Outwide, Dillyn Leyds also slots straight back into the Western Province starting lineup, having played well for the Springboks at Newlands.

Du Preez is under no illusion that his side face a real test this weekend and he highlighted the visitors set pieces as a major threat.

“They’ve got a great scrum, especially with Wilco Louw coming back. It’ll be a big battle scrum-wise and also in the lineouts. We’ll have our work cut out for us,” the Sharks coach said.

 The Sharks host Western Province on Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park - kickoff is at 15h00.

Sharks team (15-1):

Garth April, Odwa Ndungane, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, S'bu Nkosi, Curwin Bosch, Michael Claassens, Dan du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Botha (c), Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit.

Substitutes: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Juan Schoeman, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Tristan Blewett, Kobus van Wyk.

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