Captain Eben will lead Sharks

Henry

Eben Etzebeth will lead the Sharks on the field on Friday night in London when they play against Gloucester in the final of the European Challenge Cup.

With Lukhanyo Am on the crutch list, John Plumtree (coach) decided to entrust the reins of captaincy to SA Rugby’s player of the year.

However, Etzebeth can still rely on the experience of Springbok teammates such as Makazole Mapimpi, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nché.

Nché is playing in his 50th game for the Sharks and the strong forward believes that the KwaZulu-Natallers are ready for the Gloucester challenge.

“This is a very important game for us and every player has been persuaded to give his best,” said the prop.

He also underlined the importance of the senior players’ role on the field.

“We have to keep our teammates calm and focused on what they have to do. This is by far our biggest task at the moment.”

Earlier, Gloucester’s George Skivington said that the Englishmen were wary of the Sharks’ rough shooting.

“The Sharks have a number of high-profile players, guys who can pull a rabbit out of the hat on a rugby field – from their backs and Etzebeth to their successful forward line,” said the Gloucester head coach.

The match starts at 21:00 on Friday and the action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi (full back), Werner Kok (right wing), Ethan Hooker (outside centre), Francois Venter (inside centre), Makazole Mapimpi (left wing), Siya Masuku (fly-half), Grant Williams (scrum-half), Phepsi Buthelezi (eighth man), Vincent Tshituka (flank), James Venter (flank), Gerbrandt Grobler (lock), Eben Etzebeth (captain and lock), Vincent Koch (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hook) and Ox Nché (prop). Substitutes: Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Hanro Jacobs, Lappies Labuschagne, Dylan Richardson, Cameron Wright, Curwin Bosch and Eduan Keyter.