In a World Cup year Super Rugby teams are seldom at full strength – even more so than in other seasons when injuries take their usual toll.
And unfortunately for one of the great occasions in South African rugby the World Cup and injuries have combined to make the derby between the Sharks and the Lions on Saturday kick-off 17:15) one that will affect the log standings but not necessarily prove who is the better side.
Lions captain Malcom Marx (photo GB Jordaan) is being rested, says coach Lions Swys de Bruin – most probably because of so-called Springbok protocols. Warren Whiteley and Ross Cronje (both injured) and tighthead prop Carlu Sadie are also out of the Lions team against a KwaZulu-Natal outfit without Springbok frontrow stalwarts Beast Mtawarira (loosehead), Akker van der Merwe and Thomas du Toit (who scrums on both sides).
♦ The new loose head of the Durbanites, Mzamo Majola, has been with the Sharks squad for some time and represented the Junior Springboks in 2015. Quality there is undoubtedly, but he obviously lacks experience.
Ruben van Heerden is back at lock in place of the ever-improving Hyron Andrews, Dan du Preez returns at No 8 and Philip van der Walt moves to flank in place of Jacques Vermeulen.
Dylan Richardson will hope for a first cap as hooker from the bench.
♦ Lions tighthead prop Sadie is being rotated with Johannes Jonker starting and Jan-Henning Campher replaces Marx. In another change, experienced Nic Groom replaces Cronjé behind the scrum, at least ensuring a quicker service.
Kwagga Smith is the Lions captain following the unavailability of Whiteley and Marx.
The two teams for Saturday’s match (kick-off 17:15) –
Aphalele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, André Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Louis Schreuder (captain), Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Mzamo Majola. Replacements: Dylan Richardson, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Jacques Vermeulen, Cameron Wright, Robert du Preez, Kobus van Wyk.
Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Kwagga Smith (captain), Cyle Brink, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Johannes Jonker, Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith. Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole, Carlu Sadie, Reinhard Nothnagel, Vincent Tshituka, Hacjivah Dayimani, Shaun Reynolds, Tyrone Green.