Sharks make six Currie Cup changes for Cheetahs

Currie Cup champions the Sharks have made six changes to their team for this weekend’s Currie Cup match against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

For a second consecutive week Brad Macleod-Henderson was forced to make six alterations to his line-up after the Durban side suffered a surprise loss at home to the Griquas last weekend.

Utility back Tim Swiel becomes the third fullback in as many weeks after he was named ahead of Jaco van Tonder at number 15 while SP Marais is on the bench.

There will also be first starts of the season for centre Andre Esterhuizen and flyhalf Lionel Cronje. Wing Tonderai Chavhanga returns to the backline in the place of S’bura Sithole — the latter shifting to midfield.

Centre pair Heimar Williams and Paul Jordaan both make way, along with Fred Zeilinga.

Among the forwards, lock Wiehan Hay and prop Thomas du Toit are replaced by Marco Wentzel and Dale Chadwick respectively as Macleod-Henderson wielded the axe.

“I think we’re clear in that we want to start settling on the right combinations now,” forwards coach Paul Anthony said.

“We have to settle the team now. We’ve had quite a few disruptions due to injuries, but where we can, we need to cut our losses and this is our team going forward.”

Hooker Monde Hadebe returns to the bench after missing the past few weeks, while forward Khaya Majola is in line for his debut as a substitute.

The Sharks have dropped to fourth in the competition standings, nine points adrift of leaders Western Province.

Anthony said there had been a lot of reflection this week over where things had gone wrong.

“There’s been a lot of introspection … we’re a lot harder on mistakes in practice, for example, and that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“It’s forward now and you can’t be beating around the bush. Games are getting a lot tougher. Let’s be honest, we have to win on Saturday and so do the Cheetahs. It’s going to be an absolute cracker.

“To me it’s almost like a knock-out match. We’ve got to win now, there’s no more ifs or buts.”

Sharks

Tim Swiel, Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, Andre Esterhuizen, Tonderai Chavhanga, Lionel Cronje, Conrad Hoffmann, Tera Mtembu (captain), Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques Botes, Stephan Lewies, Marco Wentzel, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Thomas du Toit, Johan Meyer, Khaya Majola, Cameron Wright, Fred Zeilinga, SP Marais.

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