Kolisi to lead Sharks against Scarlets

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Sharks' Siya Kolisi against BenettonSpringbok captain Siya Kolisi has 63 caps for South Africa
Venue: Kings Park Stadium, Durban Date: Friday, 11 March Time: 17:10 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two Wales and later on demand. Report and highlights BBC Sport website & app.

Scarlets will face World Cup-winning South Africa captain Siya Kolisi when they play Sharks in the United Rugby Championship (URC) in Durban on Friday.

The South African side also features nine other Springboks including Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi and Ox Nche.

Sam Costelow and Dane Blacker are Scarlets half-back pairing, with Rhys Patchell unfit and Gareth Davies back with Wales.

Their only other change is wing Corey Baldwin for injured Ryan Conbeer.

Baldwin will be making his first Scarlets appearance since breaking a foot in pre-season.

Kolisi will lead the Sharks in the absence of regular skipper Lukhanyo Am.

Springbok centre Am, 28, signed a new three-year deal with Sharks last week before being granted leave to spend two months with Kobe Steelers in Japan.

Jeremy Ward takes his place in midfield, one of three changes to the team which earned a bonus-point victory at Benetton last month.

Lock Reniel Hugo comes in for Ruben van Heerden, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe replaces Phepsi Buthelezi at number eight.

Notshe has played six internationals - the Sharks' other Springbok caps are Aphelele Fassi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, Bongi Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit, providing a stern test for head coach Dwayne Peel's improving Scarlets side.

"You look at the Sharks, they are star-studded, a lot of Springbok internationals," said Peel.

"Physicality is taken for granted here, if we don't turn up with physicality we are going to be in trouble, they can also hurt you with speed out wide.

"We have to be physical, clinical and disciplined. We have brought a young squad here, it is a big test for us, but what a great opportunity."

The game will be the first southern v northern hemisphere match-up staged in South Africa in the expanded URC competition.

The fixture was originally scheduled for November but was postponed following the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, leaving Scarlets temporarily stranded in Durban before returning, via 10 days isolation in Northern Ireland.

Sharks have lost only one of their last six fixtures in the competition, while three of Scarlets' four URC wins this season have come in their last five games.

The Welsh region have lost only one of their 10 previous encounters against South African opposition, going down 28-21 to the Cheetahs in December 2017.

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi; Sbu Nkosi, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi; Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Gerbrandt Grobler, Reniel Hugo, Siya Kolisi (capt), Henco Venter, Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Replacements: Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Le Roux Roets, Phepsi Buthelezi, Grant Williams, Tito Bonilla, Werner Kok.

Scarlets: Tom Rogers; Steff Evans, Johnny Williams, Scott Williams (capt), Corey Baldwin; Sam Costelow, Dane Blacker; Steff Thomas, Daf Hughes, Samson Lee, Sam Lousi, Jac Price, Blade Thomson, Dan Davis, Sione Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Shaun Evans, Kemsley Mathias, Harri O'Connor, Aaron Shingler, Carwyn Tuipulotu, Archie Hughes, Dan Jones, Joe Roberts.

Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU)

Assistants: Marius van der Westhuizen & Morne Ferreira (SARU)

TMO: Adam Jones (WRU).

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