After the, some would say, lucky win over the Rebels just before jetting out, Link has taken the opportunity to make a few changes and it appears he is going for the spark that seemed to ignite after the bench was emptied.
The changes in the backs see Ben Lucas move to 10 replacing Mike Harris who moves to 12. Jono Lance vacates his 12 jersey and drops out of the 22 and Nick Frisby comes onto the bench in his place. Rod Davies swaps spots with Luke Morahan, moving from the bench to the fullback spot. That makes it the same backline as the one that finished against the Rebels, and there appeared to be a higher sense of urgency with Lucas at 10, hopefully the same happens from the start.
Up front Ben Daley moves to the bench and Greg Holmes to loosehead, a move that saw considerable starch added at scrum time on the weekend. Lock Van Humphries gets to start, with Rob Simmons dropping to the Bench, given what Van put on the field on the weekend, that is a good move. The other change is Beau Robinson and Liam Gill continuing their rotation with Beau starting this week.
The sharks are not without changes of their own, Jannie du Plussis being the main one, and a fine counter to the bolstering the Reds have done to their own front row. The other change to the pack is injury forced, with Ross Skeate succumbing to a neck injury to be replaced by Anton Bresler.
In the backs Charl McLeod starts at Halfback and Louis Ludik goes to the bench.
Sharks: 1. Dale Chadwick 2. Bismarck du Plessis 3. Jannie du Plessis 4. Steven Sykes 5. Anton Bresler 6. Marcell Coetzee 7. Willem Alberts 8. Keegan Daniel (Captain) 9. Charl McLeod 10. Patrick Lambie 11. Lwazi Mvovo 12. Tim Whitehead 13. JP Pietersen 14. Odwa Ndungane 15. Riaan Viljoen
Reserves: 16. Craig Burden 17. Wiehahn Herbst 18. Jandre Marais 19. Jacques Botes 20. Frederic Michalak 21. Meyer Bosman 22. Louis Ludik
Reds: 1. Greg Holmes, 2. James Hanson, 3. James Slipper, 4. James Horwill (c), 5. Van Humphries, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Beau Robinson, 8. Radike Samo, 9. Will Genia (vc), 10. Ben Lucas, 11. Digby Ioane, 12. Mike Harris, 13. Ben Tapuai, 14. Dom Shipperley, 15. Rod Davies
Reserves: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Rob Simmons, 19. Jake Schatz, 20. Liam Gill, 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Luke Morahan
Live from ABSA Stadium, or the Shork Tank, Kick off is at 5:05pm local or 1:05am AEST and will be shown on Fox Sports 3 & 3HD.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Mark Lawrence and Cobus Wessels
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
The changes to the team will provide the necessary spark and control, but it will be the limited edition Jerseys the Reds will be wearing that will do the damage. As Dom #shipsanity Shipperley speeds toward the line, the movement and scientifically designed pattern of the strip will result in most of the sharks team falling over in a sudden bout of fits.
The fearless prediction
What does a defending champion team need to do to start as bookies favorites? Show some cohesion? I made this prediction last week, and I am going to again. I was wrong then, but not this time (I hope), the Reds will see to it that the East African nation of Burundi has far less hassle getting clean drinking water by scoring a 4 try bonus point as they clean up the Sharks. The defense of Matt “McTatsy” Taylor will hold up and the game will do wonders to the for and against of the team. Reds by 18.