Big guns set to start for Sharks
Sharks boss Jake White is set to name several big-name players in his squad for Friday's warm-up clash with the Lions in Johannesburg.
White revealed that he intends to pick a similar side as the one that will line up against the Bulls in their Super Rugby opener in Durban on 15 February.
“It’s going to be as close as it gets to a dress rehearsal, I’d like to pick the team for this game that will start the opening Super Rugby match against the Bulls the following week,” he told Supersport
“I’ll give them (the first choice players) as much game-time as I can in the first 40 or 50 minutes. Then if I’ve seen what I need to, then I’ll look to give other guys a run. But the quicker I can get cohesion and group work going the better it will be.”
Springbok number eight Ryan Kankowski - who fell out of favour with former Sharks coach John Plumtree after some below par performances in 2013 - returns to the Durban-based franchise this week from his Japanese club commitments.
Although he won't be in action against the Lions, or for that matter the Bulls, Kankowski is a player who White rates highly and is set to play a big role at the Sharks this season.
“He’s a Springbok, he’s got something special about him," said White.
"He’s really quick and has bit of X-factor.
“Ryan is very important in terms of the way we want to play. I know he’s come back a bit later than we would have liked, but at least he’s here for the first week of the competition, which bodes well for the future.”
Despite Kankowski's absence White will not be short of options in the back row, particularly after Tera Mtembu impressed as the openside flanker against Saracens on 25 January.
It will be interesting to see who White selects as his starting loose trio against the Lions.
“We’ve got Willem, Tera and Keegan (Daniel) who can all play there (apart from Kankowski)," he said.
"I don’t think it is about who plays there, but about the make-up of our back row and the forward pack. We have young locks, but they are sandwiched between a really experienced back row and front row.”