Etzebeth leads star studded Sharks in final

rugby23 May 2024 11:56
By:Gavin Rich
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Eben Etzebeth © Gallo Images

The Hollywoodbets Sharks will have double Rugby World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth as their appointed leader when they clash with Gloucester in Friday night’s EPCR Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Etzebeth replaces fellow World Cup winner Lukhanyo Am as captain due to the shoulder and rib injury that has prevented Am from being part of the buildup to a match which the Sharks need to win in order to qualify for next season’s Investec Champions Cup. Apart from Am and his fellow injured Bok, scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, all the Sharks’ international players are fit and selected for the decider.

Although the side differs completely from the one that lost 34-14 to Cardiff in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship last weekend, some of the players from that game have been rewarded, with Dylan Richardson coming in as cover at looseforward (of course he can also play hooker) and wing Eduan Keyter, who proved his utility value at centre last week, also on the bench.

Curwin Bosch is back from his injury problems and is also rewarded for his sharp cameo against Cardiff, with the only two changes to the team that started the close semifinal win over Clermont-Auvergne being a fit again Ethan Hooker in for Am and Gerbrandt Grobler coming in for Emile van Heerden as Etzebeth’s lock partner.

HOLLYWOODBETS SHARKS TEAM: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Ethan Hooker, Francois Venter, Makazole Mapimpi, Siya Masuku, Grant Williams, Phepsi Buthelezi, Vincent Tshituka, James Venter, Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Replacements: Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Hanro Jacobs, Lappies Labuschagne, Dylan Richardson, Cameron Wright, Curwin Bosch, Eduan Keyter.