Sharks set for crucial Chiefs clash

Dick Muir is likely to name a well-balanced but inexperienced side to take on the Chiefs in their Super 14 opener on Saturday, with four of his starting XV making their debuts in the extended regional romp.

Speculation in the Mercury reveals that loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe, drafted in from the Cats, should start in jersey 1 alongside Skipper Badenhorst and BJ Botha in the front row.

Despite playing the warm-up fixtures at lock, AJ Venter should start in his preferred position on the flank, with the experienced Johan Ackerman making his debut in Durban alongside Currie Cup captain Johann Muller.

JP Pietersen and Dusty Noble are both Super 14 debutants, high on potential but low on big-match experience. Similarly Cheetahs-import Andries Strauss, who should start alongside Gcobani Bobo in the midfield.

Muir also seems likely to hand jersey 6 to Warren Britz and not Solly Tyibilika.

Brent Russell and Butch James’s absence through injury means Percy Montgomery is the only real contender for jersey 10, and how he combines with Ruan Pienaar could prove crucial to the Sharks’ chances.

POSSIBLE SHARKS SIDE TO PLAY CHIEFS

15 JP Pietersen
14 Dusty Noble
13 Gcobani Bobo
12 Andries Strauss
11 Henno Mentz
10 Percy Montgomery
9 Ruan Pienaar
8 Jacques Botes
7 AJ Venter
6 Warren Britz
5 Johan Ackerman
4 Johann Muller
3 BJ Botha
2 Skipper Badenhorst
1 Heinke van der Merwe