Patrick Lambie will return to the Sharks' starting line-up for this Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Chiefs in Hamilton after missing the last two matches because of an ankle injury. Picture: Gallo Images
Can the Sharks do the almost unthinkable and bring the Super Rugby trophy back to Durban by beating the Chiefs in the final in Hamilton on Saturday?
The last few weeks have been as close to a dogfight as you would find on a rugby field for the men from Durban.
After crushing the Bulls (32-10) and the Cheetahs (34-15) in their final two league matches, they beat the Reds in Brisbane in a tough qualifier (30-17) before returning to South Africa where they were too good for the Stormers in last weekend’s semi-final in Cape Town (26-19).
The upside is that the Sharks qualified for their fourth Super Rugby final. The downside? Another trip halfway across the globe, this time to Hamilton in New Zealand, where that country’s conference winners, the Chiefs, await.
For Sharks and Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis it’s also quite a special occasion, as he will be playing in this 100th
Vodacom Super Rugby match – all of them in the colours of the Sharks.
Du Plessis forms part of a nearly all-Springbok forward pack, while the Sharks have also welcomed young star Patrick Lambie back from injury, with the 21-year-old named to start in place of Riaan Viljoen at fullback.
Meanwhile, fit-again centre Paul Jordaan will replace the injured Tim Whitehead, and will have a big job to do lining up opposite the Chiefs' Sonny Bill Williams.
It promises to be an enthralling final on Saturday, and if the Sharks were to emerge victorious, it would mark one of the greatest achievement ever in the history of Super Rugby.
15 Pat Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (c), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Subs: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga