The Cell C Sharks will aim for consistency against the Hurricanes tomorrow morning when they play them at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.
The Hurricanes will play in their first match of the 2020 Super Rugby Season. There will be first-time appearances for flyhalf Mitch Hunt and wings Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku. Looking to debut off the bench is the versatile former Blues player, Michael Collins, who is joined by loose forward, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and lock cover Jesse Parete.
Coach Mauger said the team are looking forward to the occasion, “the squad has worked very hard during the preseason and the players are excited by the opportunity to play in front of our home supporters at our stadium.”
The Cell C Sharks team is almost exactly the same as last week’s victorious side. Winger Sbu Nkosi has a minor niggle with Madosh Tambwe his replacement.
Head coach Sean Everitt admitted that the win over the Vodacom Bulls was important for the team to set the tone for the season, particularly before touring. “It was a massive confidence booster,” he said of the 23-15 win at Jonsson Kings Park on Friday evening.
Given the heat and humidity and the consequent difficult handling, playing in New Zealand represents the perfect opportunity at this time of year to play some exciting rugby without the risk posed in Durban during February.
“The guys are enjoying the conditions here,” said Everitt. “We play this match against the Highlanders undercover, so the conditions will suit us. I think the guys will find it refreshing although this first week is tough because we’ll have just one training session due to the travel. But we are happy with all the prep we did in pre-season, and the fact that the injury toll wasn’t serious outside of Sbu is a big plus.”
Although Everitt admitted that the team’s win over the Bulls had not been error-free, constant improvement and above all consistent performances was what they will be working towards this season.
“We’ve said before that this team needs to be more consistent, we’ve been criticised for that, so consistency is key. Going overseas for four weeks is tough, we know that but this team has a vibe about it and they are really keen to take up the challenge.”
Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Liam Coltman, 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Paripari Parkinson, 5. Josh Dickson, 6. Dillon Hunt, 7. James Lentjes (C) 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Mitch Hunt, 11. Jona Nareki, 12. Josh Ioane, 13. Rob Thompson, 14. Tima Fainga’anuku, 15. Josh McKay. Replacements: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18. Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19. Jesse Parete, 20. Shannon Frizell, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Michael Collins, 23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
Cell C Sharks: 1. Ox Nche, 2. Kerron van Vuuren, 3. Thomas du Toit, 4. Ruben van Heerden, 5. Hyron Andrews, 6. James Venter, 7. Tyler Paul, 8. Sikumbuzo Notshe, 9. Louis Schreuder, 10. Curwin Bosch, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 13. Lukhanyo Am (c), 14. Madosh Tambwe, 15. Aphelele Fassi. Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. John-Hubert Meyer, 19. Le Roux Roets, 20. Henco Venter, 21. Sanele Nohamba, 22. Boeta Chamberlain, 23. Jeremy Ward.