Russell ready to rumble

Sharks Pocket Rocket Brent Russell is itching to get a chance to have a go at the Blues after being included on the bench for the Vodacom Super 14 clash in Durban on Saturday.

Following the calf injury to Henno Mentz in the win over the Calamity Cats, Russell was expected to make a welcome comeback to Super Rugby on the left wing, but in-form Cedric Mkhize was preferred by the selectors.

Both players have excelled in the table-topping Wildebeest outfit this season. It was the only change made to the starting XV, while Russell’s inclusion in jersey 22 came after JP Pietersen also cried off with an ankle injury.

Russell though can’t wait to unleash his special brand of turbo-charged rugby when he will be introduced by coach Dick Muir sometime in the second half.

“I’m confident right now,” he told, “that I will be able to do my usual if given the chance. It’s obviously a game we have to win if we want to stay in the hunt for a semi-final spot.”

The Sharks resurgence in this year’s competition has seen them go from favourites for the chop to SA’s best bet for a top four finish. “Ja, no one gave us a chance at the beginning of the season, but sport goes that way and you have to enjoy it while you are winning.”

Russell said the team had not been distratced by the slim possibility of making the play-offs. “We have four games left and we have to win all four, so we have to take it one game at a time. There is no way we can look at the semis now.”

Sharks team versus Blues:
15. Percy Montgomery, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Adrian Jacobs, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Cedric Mkhize, 10. Tony Brown, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. AJ Venter, 7. Jacques Botes, 6. Warren Britz, 5. Johann Muller, 4. Johan Ackermann, 3. BJ Botha, 2. John Smit (captain), 1. Deon Carstens.

Replacements: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Heinke van der Merwe, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Scott Mathie, 21. Bradley Barritt, 22. Brent Russell

By Andrew Hollely