Ox Nche is the only member of the tight five who retains his place in the team this weekend for the encounter at Emirates Airline Park, where kick-off is at 19h00, with all the action broadcast live on SuperSport.
After their victory over the table-topping Vodacom Bulls last weekend, the Cell C Sharks will be keen to maintain their momentum against the Xerox Lions, but it won’t be easy as the Gautengers have been hitting their straps in the last few weeks.
Nche will pack down next to Kerron van Vuuren, who is back at hooker, with Michael Kumbirai anchoring the scrum on the tighthead side after Thomas du Toit was ruled out due to a rib injury.
Behind them, JJ van der Mescht and Aston Fortuin form a new second row partnership, with Fortuin, a big unit who has played for the Vodacom Bulls and Southern Kings, making his Carling Currie Cup debut for the Cell C Sharks.
Returning to the side and playing off the bench are front row replacements Fez Mbatha (hooker) and John Hubert-Meyer (prop), while James Venter (loose forward) is another welcome returnee after missing recent action.
Kumbirai, who played for DHL Western Province earlier in his career before moving to Durban at the end of last season, warned his team-mates to expect a proper challenge on the Highveld.
“The Lions match this weekend is going to be tough – we expect them to be hungry and I think it’s going to be a really good game,” said Kumbirai.
“The Lions will definitely be up for it, they’ll be coming with a lot of tempo so we know we’re going to have to go up to Joburg and work really hard.
“The Lions have a really good scrum, their set-piece has been a strength of theirs and that’s going to be a great battle on Saturday.
“We do take a lot of confidence out of the Bulls game, but this is a new week and we have to wear different hats to ensure that we are 100% focussed for this game.”
Cell C Sharks – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 James Venter, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Match information – Xerox Lions v Cell C Sharks
Date: Saturday, 19 December 2020
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Stuart Berry
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby