Venter on hold for Sharks

Dick Muir has delayed a decision on whether to select AJ Venter on the blindside flank until the last possible moment, as the hard-hitting forward readies himself despite suffering a fracture to his finger.

The Sharks face the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday in what is shaping up to be a thriller of the game.

The Stormers are much improved and the classy and tough Sharks are desperate for a win to secure a semi-final spot in the tight play-offs race.

Venter has been bracketed with Warren Britz on the flank, and, if Venter fails to recover, it will be a speedy and somewhat light loose trio that looks to counter the Stormers highly rated trio of Luke Watson, Schalk Burger and Joe van Niekerk.

Ryan Kankowski retains a spot at number eight as does Jacques Botes in jersey six. Bob Skinstad, the former icon of Stormers rugby, will play off the bench in his return to Newlands.

One of Dick Muir’s other significant changes sees the return of tighthead BJ Botha to the starting line-up.

The Sharks suffered somewhat against the Lions in the scrum, and the performance not only highlighted the strength of Lions props Heinke van der Merwe and Brian Mujati, but also how pivotal Botha is to what has been a strong front row effort by the Sharks this season.

The battle upfront will no doubt be interesting, with the Stormers pack showing significant improvement this year, especially in the tight five

Sharks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Francois Steyn, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Bradley Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Butch James, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Warren Britz/AJ Venter, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Johan Ackermann, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Deon Carstens
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Keegan Daniel/Warren Britz, 20 Bob Skinstad, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Adrian Jacobs

Date: Saturday, 5 May
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Touch judges: Linston Manuels (South Africa), Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Assessor: Dennis Immelman


365 Digital

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