Kings Park Stadium, Durban, Sunday 1.05am (AEST)
Last meeting: Round 11 2014 - Highlanders 34 bt Sharks 18 at Kings Park Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 18 Sharks 10 Highlanders 8
In Durban: Played 8 Sharks 5 Highlanders 3
Referee: Steve Walsh (AUS)
TV: Live, FoxSports 2
Ladbrokes: Sharks $1.14, Highlanders $5.75
Betfair: Sharks $1.17, Highlanders $6.40
AAP writes: The Highlanders have been woeful in the past two weeks. They lost 44-16 to the Waratahs, then 34-8 to the Crusaders. Everyone is writing them off against the Sharks - their third clash against a conference-winning side in as many weeks - but if co-captain Ben Smith recovers from a leg infection to return at fullback, his counter-attacking abilities will go a long way towards nullifying the Sharks’ ‘‘Jakeball’’ kicking game. The Highlanders will also take confidence from the fact they shocked the Sharks with a bonus-point win in Durban in round 11. That was the first loss the Sharks suffered at home in nine games. Meanwhile, never one to shirk away from a big call, Sharks’ director of rugby Jake White is considering risking the return of five-eighth Pat Lambie. The Springbok back hasn’t played competitive rugby since March 22 when he injured a bicep against the Bulls. But with the Sharks re-discovering their mojo with a 34-10 win over the Stormers last week, his return would be more readily accommodated this week than it would if they were able to book a date against the Crusaders.
SHARKS: SP Marais, S’bura Sithole,JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Lwazi Mvovo, Frans Steyn, Cobus Reinach, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Anton Bresler, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis (capt), Thomas du Toit Reserves: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Pat Lambie, Tonderai Chavhanga
HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith, Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Phil Burleigh, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon, Joe Wheeler, Jarrad Hoeata, Chris King, Ged Robinson, Kane Hames. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Matias Diaz, JP Koen, Josh Bekhuis, Tom Franklin, Fumiaki Tanaka, Trent Renata, Gareth Evans.