The Sharks and Bulls’ opening match of the 2020 Super Rugby season provides a perfect compensation for the long wait rugby fans had to endure for months.
The new Super Rugby season kicks-off with a mouth-watering local derby in Durban this evening.
A new-look Sharks side under coach Sean Everitt will lock horns with the men from Pretoria looking to start their campaign on a positive note. All eyes will surely be on the new Sharks skipper Lukhanyo Am.
Am, who was a core member of the Springbok World Cup-winning team, is tasked with leading the Durban Franchise this season.
The talented centre will be hoping to start his reign on a winning note at home.
Everitt has named a very balanced team fusing experiencing with the exuberance of youth.
New acquisitions in the form of Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Ox Nche will earn their first start in new colours. However, the Durbanites will face a Bulls team that is equally looking to start the season on a high. The Bulls, who unlike other local teams retained their coach, and will be looking to build on last season’s foundation.
The Tshwane side dominated the Sharks last season, winning both fixtures home and away.
Pote Human has decided to give veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn the nod ahead of young talent Manie Libbok. Steyn’s inclusion is a clear statement that Human is looking to maintain his record against Everrit’s men.
Meanwhile, John Dobson will start his reign with a tough encounter against the Hurricanes.
The Stormers lock horns with the New Zealand side at Newlands Stadium on Saturday, looking to forget about their disastrous campaign last season. Dobson has named a strong team, which includes seven Springbok winning players. Siya Kolisi will once again lead the Cape side to battle against a Canes side that has proven to be tough over the years.
But the Cape Town franchise will be brimming with confidence given the fact that most of their players are fresh from the World Cup glory. The Stormer’s forward line has to be one of the best in the competition and one that can win this encounter for Dobson.
Elsewhere, the Elton Janjies/Ivan Van Rooyen new reign at Lions will face an acid test in Argentina on Sunday morning. They take on last season’s finalist at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires. The pride of Joburg has previously done well in Argentina, however, even the bookmakers will not rule them out from being gun down by the hosts.
One only wishes all SA teams send a strong message to their New Zealand, Australia, Argentinian and Japanese counterparts that they mean business this season and want to break the trophy drought.