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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Neil Powell banking on Sharks’ squad depth for URC clash against Stormers

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Durban — Sharks coach Neil Powell says his team’s courageous victory over Edinburgh last week was just the tonic they require as they enter a seven-week period without their Springboks, starting Saturday against the Stormers (2pm).

The win in the Scotland capital was without some of their leading Boks and this week they are without all eight of them as the Springbok resting protocols kick in.

From the team that beat Edinburgh, Thomas du Toit and Ox Nche are now on leave but they have strong replacements in Carlu Sadie and Ntuthuko Mchunu.

The rest of the pack is intact and in the backline scrumhalf Grant Williams is missing through injury and there is a change in the midfield, with Rohan Janse van Rensburg returning from compassionate leave to take the place of Francois Venter.

“We know that we have eight Boks that will be unavailable for a while,” Powell said on Friday. “This season is a squad effort. It’s about the 50 players, not just the 23 that play or the Springboks.

“We saw last week the massive character and fight, especially defensively. We will definitely continue to drive the standards and processes. It’s never just about the Springboks. If the guys take their opportunities, it’s all we can ask for as a coaching staff.

“For instance, look at a Siya Kolisi, he’s been working with Dylan Richardson and we still have James Venter. We have a good enough squad to be successful without the Springboks.

“I can go position by position. That’s how we contracted the squad, to make sure we have enough cover for the Boks. It’s building squad depth not just for now, but also for the future. These players have a great opportunity to get experience and show what they are capable of.”

Powell added that the valiant win in Edinburgh had given his team momentum.

“We have taken massive confidence that we can guts out wins,” he said. “That’s important as long as it doesn’t cause complacency. It’s good for us to take that confidence before facing the Stormers.

“For us, it’s just the next game. If we make too much emphasis on this, it puts too much pressure on that specific game. It’s all about knowing our roles and responsibilities, our standards and what we want to achieve. It might have a significant impact on the table, but it’s more about the effort that we put into the performance. It’s just the next game for us.

“There’s obviously a reason why the Stormers sit high up the log,” Powell added. “We have identified those key areas and individuals for the Stormers.

“We’ve put a big emphasis on that and tried to do as much prep as possible, even though it was a shorter week than what we are used to. “

Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (capt), 7 Henco Venter, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.

Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Bradley Davids, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Yaw Penxe.

@MikeGreenaway

IOL Sport

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