Acid test for Bosch
Curwin Bosch will face an acid test of his readiness to front the Cell C Sharks’ challenge from the pivot position when the Durban team travels to Bloemfontein on Saturday to face the Toyota Cheetahs.
There is a reason that Bosch has played most of his senior rugby so far as a fullback whereas when he played in the 2015 Craven Week in Stellenbosch just over 19 months ago he played flyhalf for Eastern Province Schools. Most of the reservations revolve around his defensive work and it is why inside centre Andre Esterhuizen stands in the flyhalf channel on opposition set-phase ball when Bosch is in the pivot position.
Of course, Bosch is young. He is just over a year out of school, and when he has ball in hand he shows no inclination to shirk the physical stuff. So there is no reason he can’t develop into a good defender, which is the intention of the Sharks’ coaching staff.
However, in the here and now Bosch does face a very different challenge to the one he faced when he ran onto the field as Patrick Lambie’s replacement at flyhalf against the Waratahs two weeks ago. The Waratahs weren’t expecting him to be playing most of the game against them as a flyhalf. He was in fact down to cover both flyhalf and fullback, and with Lambie being the captain, it was likely he’d only get onto the field in the latter role.
The Cheetahs have had time to prepare for Bosch playing flyhalf, which means they’ve had time to work out ways to play on his weaknesses. And the current Cheetahs team is very good at doing that. What Bosch has proved adept at doing though is getting through the pressure moments, as he did when he kicked a 55 metre penalty to win the game against the Southern Kings last week.
Bosch’s performance will be closely watched by his coaches and will be pivotal to the result of Saturday’s highly appetising South African derby between two teams that have a long history of intense rivalry and who have squared off against each other in many memorable games at both Super Rugby and both Currie Cup level.
Apart from Bosch’s switch from fullback to flyhalf in place of Bernhard Janse van Rensburg, and Clement Poitrenaud’s return from injury to the last line of defence, there are several other changes to the Sharks team for Saturday, and most of them make the team stronger.
For instance, vice-captain Lwazi Mvovo is back on the wing, and another recognised team leader, Beast Mtawarira, is back at loosehead after resting as per the Springbok resting agreement last week. Coenie Oosthuizen has also returned on the other side of the scrum, with Chiliboy Ralepelle continuing at hooker in the injury enforced absence of Franco Marais.
Jacques Vermeulen gets another chance at openside flank after making his first start against the Kings and he will have his hands full in what could be a match deciding back row battle with the highly accomplished Cheetahs loose-forwards. The Sharks do have good back row reinforcement though, with Daniel du Preez continuing his return to rugby after a long injury lay-off from the bench.
Cell C Sharks: 15.Clement Poitrenaud, 14.Kobus van Wyk, 13.Lukhanyo Am, 12.Andre Esterhuizen, 11.Lwazi Mvovo, 10.Curwin Bosch, 9.Cobus Reinach, 8.Tera Mtembu, 7.Jean Luc du Preez, 6.Jacques Vermeulen, 5.Ruan Botha, 4.Etienne Oosthuizen, 3.Coenie Oosthuizen, 2.Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1.Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16.Stephan Coetzee, 17.Thomas du Toit, 18.Lourens Adriaanse, 19.Stephan Lewies, 20.Daniel du Preez, 21.Michael Claassens, 22.Jeremy Ward, 23.Garth April.