Depleted Sharks side to tackle British and Irish Lions

Johannesburg (AFP) –


South African franchise the Sharks will lack nine stars called up by the Springboks squad when they face the touring British and Irish Lions in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Those ruled out are backs Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi, Sibusiso Nkosi, Sanele Nohamba and Yaw Penxe as well as forwards Siya Kolisi, Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit.

Kolisi captained South Africa to a 40-9 victory over Georgia last Friday, with the first of six Springbok tries coming from debutant Fassi.

The best known of the Sharks who will face the Lions is fly-half Curwin Bosch, a contender for the national squad who lost out to Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies and Morne Steyn.

Bosch has been capped twice and is a brilliant goal kicker, but critics say he is a defensive liability.

He will be partnered by Jaden Hendrikse, a young scrum-half who many pundits expected to be included in the 45-strong Springbok squad.

Former Springbok and Sharks legend Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira has called substitute prop Ntuthuko Mchunu a "potential great".

"He will get better and better," said the loosehead prop who was part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning South Africa team.

"This is a big challenge," acknowledged coach Sean Everitt ahead of the match against tourists who hammered the Johannesburg-based Lions 56-14 in their first outing.

"Not many of the players have international experience and they must go into this game well prepared and understand what is coming their way.

"We have only played two domestic games recently, but our group has been together for some time and are looking forward to the challenge. We must get the fundamentals right."

Sharks team (15-1)

Manie Libbok; Werner Kok, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Thaakir Abrahams; Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse; Phepsi Buthelezi (capt), Thembelani Bholi, James Venter; Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden; Khutha Mchunu, Fez Mbatha, Khwezi Mona

Replacements: Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Wiehahn Herbst, JJ van der Mescht, Reniel Hugo, Dylan Richardson, Grant Williams, Anthony Volmink

Coach: Sean Everitt (RSA)