Super Rugby: Sharks v Waratahs preview
Last Updated: 28/03/14 3:14pm
The depleted Sharks put their title credentials on the line when they take on the Waratahs at Kings Park on Saturday.
The hosts are without half-backs Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach, while Pieter-Steph du Toit is another who won't make the line-up. In total, Sharks' coach Jake White has made 10 changes, either in personnel or positional, to the team that went down 23-19 to the Bulls last weekend.
Despite that they are able to call upon Keegan Daniel, last year's Sharks Currie Cup-winning captain, who is in the squad for the first time this season, underlining the depth in White's squad.
Meanwhile the visitors will have to make do without brilliant full-back Israel Folau if they are to pick up the points for only the 11th time in 16 outings against Saturday's opponents.
The former Australian rugby league international picked up a throat injury in last week's win against the Rebels and will have to wait a week before attempting to add to his burgeoning eight-try tally for the season.
Despite those statistics, the Sharks have won three of their seven home encounters with the 'Tahs and drawn the other, so they can approach the weekend with confidence and should they overcome this challenge then they will surely silence any doubts about their ability to lift the title.
"From a morale point of view, it is important not to react too badly to last week's defeat," said coach White.
"It was our first loss, and it is unlikely any team will go through an entire Super Rugby tournament unbeaten. We are back at home, we are unbeaten at home and we want to try bounce back from last week with a good performance.
"It's a new week, a new opportunity and we have a bye next week, so there is a lot to play for and no reason why we don't give everything this weekend.
"The Waratahs are a good team, they have a lot of Wallabies in their squad and they have been on a good roll so far in the competition. Like us, they've only lost just one game and they have a really well-balanced team."
Sharks: 15 Mvovo, 14 Ndungane, 13 Sithole, 12 Steyn, 11 Pietersen, 10 Zeilinga, 9 McLeod; 1 Mtawarira 2 B du Plessis (capt), 3 J du Plessis 4 Alberts, 5 Lewies, 6 Coetzee, 7 Deysel, 8 Kankowski
Replacements: 16 Cooper, 17 Chadwick, 18 Adriaanse, 19 Oosthuizen, 20 Daniel, 21 Ungerer, 22 Williams, 23 Marais.
Waratahs: 15 Lance, 14 Horne, 13 Ashley-Cooper, 12 Beale, 11 Betham, 10 Foley, 9 Phipps; 1 Robinson, 2 Polota-Nau, 3 Kepu, 4 Potgieter, 5 Dougles, 6 Dennis (capt), 7 Hooper, 8 Palu.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 7
The Sharks extended their lead at the Super Rugby summit with a 32-10 victory over an undisciplined Waratahs side.
The Bulls held champions Chiefs to a 34-34 draw in a thrilling Super Rugby affair at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Queensland Reds held off a late surge from the Stormers to claim a 22-17 victory at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.