Jozi’s Pride are preparing for a Cell C Sharks side itching to get back to winning ways after a couple of disappointing results. Kick off on Friday at Emirates Airline Park is 19h10.

The Emirates Lions welcome back Cyle Brink into their starting team for the evening derby clash. The tough-as-teak flanker missed seven months’ of action through a knee injury and his return to action will give the home side a significant boost. Brink comes into the side with Marnus Schoeman and Ruan Vermaak his loose trio partners.

Experienced centre Lionel Mapoe is set to make his 99th Vodacom Super Rugby appearance for Emirates Lions. Mapoe, who also played for the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls, joined the franchise in 2011 and has scored 29 tries to date. He will partner Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi in an interesting midfield combination.

Mtawarira will start this important match and make history when he becomes the most-capped South African rugby player in Vodacom Super Rugby history, surpassing the mark of 156 appearances set by Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Cheetahs).

Meanwhile, the loss of Akker van der Merwe through suspension has forced a change to the Cell C Sharks’ front row, where 23-year-old Kerron van Vuuren starts at hooker, with Fez Mbatha drafted onto the bench. Curwin Bosch is also back in the starting team and trades places with Aphelele Fassi at fullback.

Emirates Lions coach Swys de Bruin believes this clash will be another tough battle between two determined local teams: “The Cell C Sharks showed in last week’s match against the Vodacom Bulls just how physical they are, and we will have to be prepared and front up to them. We have some interesting combinations for this match and I am looking forward to see how that will work out against a quality side.”

Robert du Preez, the Cell C Sharks coach, echoed De Bruin and he too expects a very tough derby in Johannesburg:All South African derbies are tight affairs. In fact, if you look at all matches over the last couple of weeks there has only been one or two points difference in some of those games. This match will be no different and they will be a huge challenge on the up on the Highveld.”


Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Stephan Lewies, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Hacjivah Dayimani, 23 Sylvian Mahuza/Wandisile Simelane.

Cell C Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Aphelele Fassi.

Head to head:

Played: 21

Emirates Lions won:  9

Cell C Sharks won: 11

Draws: 1

Emirates Lions points: 460

Cell C Sharks points: 521

Average score: 22-25

Match information:

Date: Friday 5 April

SA time: 19h10

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Mike Fraser

Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Brendon Pickerill

Television Match Official: Willie Vos

TV: SuperSport1