Russell in the strike zone

Brent Russell has been handed the No 15 jersey he so covets for the Sharks match against Griquas at the Absa Stadium Durban on Friday.

Russell has had to be content with playing on the wing in this season following the emergence of JP Pietersen.

But with the youngster making his Springbok debut at Ellis Park on Saturday, Russell will be wanting to prove to coach Dick Muir that he will be best served playing him in his favoured fullback role.

The extra space afforded to him playing at fullback will suit the mercurial runner and he is bound to exploit any counterattacking opportunities Griquas present him with.

The fact that Muir has selected an even stronger side than the one that trounced the Pumas 82-14 last weekend is an indication of how much importance he places on winning the remaining games in the Currie Cup.

19-year-old Francois Steyn and 20-year-old Bradley Barritt form a youthful 10-12 axis and will be looking to create chances for their dangerous outside backs.

Adrian Jacobs fills the void left by Russell on the wing.

Jacques Botes returns to the back row after being rested for the Puma game and replaces Jaco Gouws at flank. Another Witbank absentee, lock Steven Sykes, returns from injury to bolster the pack.

With Kees Lensing injured and Danie Saayman being given a break, KZN U21 prop Nardus Wessels will make his Currie Cup debut.

By Ryan Vrede

Sharks team to play Griquas:

15. Brent Russell 14. Odwa Ndungane 13. Waylon Murray 12. Bradley Barritt 11. Adrian Jacobs 10. Francois Steyn 9. Scott Mathie 8. Ryan Kankowski 7. Jacques Botes 6. Warren Britz (Captain) 5. Steven Sykes 4. Wouter Moore 3. Nardus Wessels 2. Bismarck du Plessis 1. Deon Carstens Replacements 16. Skipper Badenhorst 17. Robbie Harris 18. Jaco Gouws 19. Keegan Daniel 20. Sandile Nxumalo 21. Andries Strauss 22. Gcobani Bobo