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Match Preview – Sharks vs Lions

Tom Curry makes his British and Irish Lions debut against the Cell C Sharks on Wednesday

We look at some of the talking points ahead of the British and Irish Lions’ second tournament match in South Africa, against the Cell C Sharks on Wednesday in Johannesburg, live on Sky Sports.

Following a pre-Japan victory at Murrayfield, the Lions gained their presence on South African soil a throbbing 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions in their opening tour match on Saturday.

Highlights from the opening match of the British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa as they faced the Sigma Lions at Ellis Park

Sky Sports 4:52
Highlights from the opening match of the British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa as they faced the Sigma Lions at Ellis Park

Highlights from the opening match of the British and Irish Lions tour in South Africa as they faced the Sigma Lions at Ellis Park

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The Durban clothing Sharks – who recently played in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup and will be part of the United Rugby Championship when it launches next season – are opponents of the second of five warm-up matches in South Africa ahead of a series of three tests against Springboks .

Capture the action from Johannesburg on Wednesday live on Sky Sports Action and Main event from 17:00.

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Tom Curry a man to watch on his Lions debut

A chest injury prevented Curry from playing a role in the throbbing wings against Japan and the Sigma Lions, but the worldwide candidate for 2019 is primed for his Lions debut after being restored to full fitness.

Still only 23, the Sale flanker is an explosive carrier, has tremendous stopping power in defense and is strong over the ball. His work rate is also a different point.

Curry is the only Lions player from the original 37-man team who has yet to join due to a chest injury

Curry is the only Lions player from the original 37-man team who has yet to join due to a chest injury

Curry has to show all these attributes if he is to wear the number seven jersey against Springboks after Hamish Watson’s magnificent, male match in the tournament opener in South Africa. A seismic duel awaits on the open side.

Daly is looking for justification in the middle

Daly has almost exclusively seen England as a winger or fullback, and has traveled to South Africa as a dedicated outside center – although he has not played there for England since 2016.

Despite a year of fighting for form in an England jersey, Daly is one of the Red Rose’s most naturally gifted players. Operating in his preferred position for the lions is an exciting view, and against the sharks he must take the opportunity for his first tour start.

Elliot Daly has been named to start at 13 vs Sharks, despite not playing there for England since 2016

Elliot Daly has been named to start at 13 vs Sharks, despite not playing there for England since 2016

The 28-year-old Saracen offers a unique set of skills compared to the other centers that have traveled – Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Chris Harris and the versatile Owen Farrell.

Athletics, footwork and speed set Daly apart from his rivals and allow the Test midfield to take a different form to power-first or twin playmaker approaches.

The sharks to watch out for

The Sharks are the best-represented side of the Springboks team and boast a nine-strong contingent headed by captain Siya Kolisi, who joined the Stormers earlier this year.

But with all of these players excluded from Wednesday’s game due to the bubble system in place, Sean Everitt’s men are being severely weakened against the Lions.

Of the players left behind, Curwin Bosch was the second highest scorer in the South African section of the Rainbow Cup, while only Stormers’ Edwill Van Der Merwe managed more attempts in the competition than lock Reniel Hugo and whore Kerron Van Vuuren.

Bosch starts on Wednesday with Hugo and Van Vuuren on the bench. Scrum half Jaden Hendrikse, who is in XV, crossed for two attempts in a narrow Currie Cup defeat against Western Province last week.

Duhan Van Der Merwe needs a big one

The Lions are blessed with high-quality back-three options, but two fights into the trip, one is almost certainly already taken after Josh Adams’ scoring feats so far.

Adams has put together five attempts in two starts, underscoring his final skill, but coach Warren Gatland may decide he wants different qualities on the other side of the field.

Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe has to impress to force his way into the top three Test standings

Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe has to impress to force his way into the top three Test standings

Van Der Merwe fills this card perfectly by using his powerful physique and clever footwork to bring tackling-busting firepower to the backline. The brutal strength of the South African-born Scott could offer balance along with the more dynamic Adams and provide physical presence against the mighty Springboks.

But with each of Adams, Anthony Watson, Liam Williams and Stuart Hogg, who have played well so far, and Louis Rees-Zammit, who scores an attempt at his Lions debut, rankings in test-back-three become extremely tight to call.

Team News

British and Irish lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Iain Henderson (c), 5 Adam Beard, 6 Josh Navidi, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Sam Simmonds.

Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Stuart Hogg, 23 Chris Harris.

Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse; 1 Khwezi Mona, 2 Fez Mbatha, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 5 Hyron Andrews, 6 James Venter, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (c).

Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Reniel Hugo, 21 Dylan Richardson, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Anthony Volmink.

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