United Rugby Championship: Duhan van der Merwe returns for Edinburgh while Kyle Steyn is back to lead Glasgow Warriors in 1872 Cup

The United Rugby Championship continues on Friday as four matches take place, with the Sharks, Stormers, Glasgow Warriors and Connacht hosting the Lions, Bulls, Edinburgh and Ulster in their respective fixtures.

Sharks v Lions

Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has made several changes to his side that defeated Bordeaux Begles in the Champions Cup last week as he looks to both keep the players fresh as well as broadening the squad’s match fitness.

Thomas du Toit shifts over to the loosehead side of the front-row with Dan Jooste replacing Bongi Mbonambi at hooker and Carlu Sadie named at tighthead.

Vincent Tshituka has shifted from flank to the lock position he occupied against Ospreys, replacing Eben Etzebeth and now partnering Hyron Andrews in the second-row.

Elsewhere, Springbok flankers Siya Kolisi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe swap jerseys with Jeandre Labuschagne back in the side and completing the loose forward trio is captain and number eight Phepsi Buthelezi.

Amongst the backline changes, Grant Williams is given a starting opportunity at scrum-half with Jaden Hendrikse playing off the replacements bench, while there is a new midfield pairing of Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lukhanyo Am, in for Ben Tapuai and Francois Venter respectively.

Meanwhile, the Lions welcome back their captain Reinhard Nothnagel, who will pack down alongside former Springbok Willem Alberts in the Lions’ second-row.

Nothnagel comes in for Pieter Jansen van Vuren, who drops down to the replacements bench while PJ Botha takes over from Jaco Visagie as the Johannesburg-based outfit’s starting hooker.

In other changes, Ruan Venter shifts to number eight while Emmanuel Tshituka, who was at the back of the scrum in last week’s Challenge Cup triumph against Stade Francais, moves to the flank with Darren Landsberg coming into the starting line-up as the other loose forward with another ex-Bok, Jaco Kriel, dropping down to the bench.

The final change is in the backline where Rynhardt Jonker comes in for the injured Henco van Wyk.

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (c), 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Vincent Tshituka, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Ben Tapuai

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Rynhardt Jonker, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Ruan Venter, 7 Darrien Landsberg, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (c), 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Gianni Lombard, 23 Stean Pienaar

Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa), Paul Mente (South Africa)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuisen (South Africa)

Stormers v Bulls

Stormers head coach John Dobson has made three alterations to his run-on side for this highly anticipated derby with the Bulls as Dan du Plessis, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Ben-Jason Dixon all come into the starting line-up.

Du Plessis and Hartzenberg will link up in midfield, while Dixon comes into the second-row for the North-South clash at Cape Town Stadium.

Dixon replaces injured Springbok lok Salmaan Moerat, while props Ali Vermaak and Neethling Fouche have both been included among the replacements.

Elsewhere, Damian Willemse shift to full-back, while Godlen Masimla comes onto the bench in place of the injured Herschel Jantjies.

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Meanwhile, Bulls director of rugby Jake White has rung the changes to his matchday squad which faced Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup at Sandy Park last weekend.

Springbok second-row Ruan Nortje returns to lead the Bulls against their arch rivals while, at scrum-half, Embrose Papier starts with Zak Burger primed to get a run from the replacements bench.

Lionel Mapoe slots in at outside centre with David Kriel still sidelined through injury.

On the bench, veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis comes in for Jan-Hendrik Wessels with Sebastian Lombard replacing Francois Klopper as prop cover and Stravino Jacobs completes the impact squad as one of the backline replacements.

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ben-Jason Dixon, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c)
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Connor Evans, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Clayton Blommetjies

Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Canan Moodie, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco Van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16 Bismarck Du Plessis, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Sebastian Lombard, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Chris Smit, 23 Stravino Jacobs

Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 19:15 local (17:15 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuisen (South Africa)

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh

Glasgow Warriors club captain Kyle Steyn returns to the starting lineup for the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh at Scotstoun on Friday in one of five changes to Franco Smith’s squad.

Fraser Brown comes into the starting XV and packs down alongside Jamie Bhatti and Murphy Walker.

Sintu Manjezi is promoted from the bench to the engine room, where he lines up alongside Richie Gray.

The back row is unchanged, with Matt Fagerson on the blindside, Sione Vailanu on the openside and Jack Dempsey at no.8.

Tom Jordan comes into the side to start at number 10, partnering George Horne with Stafford McDowall and Sione Tuipulotu combining in the centres.

Rufus McLean makes way for Steyn on the wing, with Sebastian Cancelliere and Josh McKay completing the back three.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh welcome Duhan van der Merwe back into the starting XV in one of five changes.

Van der Merwe fit again after a late withdrawal through injury against Castres last Saturday and takes Damien Hoyland’s place in the side. With Wes Goosen occupying the other wing and Emiliano Boffelli at fullback.

Try scorer against Castres; Charlie Savala starts in place of the injured Blair Kinghorn at flyhalf, with Ben Vellacott, who signed a new deal at the club this week, at scrumhalf. James Lang switches to outside centre, with Chris Dean returning at inside centre.

Tom Cruse starts at hooker, with Stuart McInally missing out with Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel on either side of him.

Glen Young and co-captain Grant Gilchrist make up the second row while Connor Boyle comes in at openside flanker, with Jamie Ritchie switching to the blindside and Viliame Mata at no.8.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Kyle Steyn (c), 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Sione Vailanu, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Murphy Walker, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Lewis Bean, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Ali Price, 23 Domingo Miotti

Edinburgh: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 James Lang, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Jamie Ritchie (cc), 5 Grant Gilchrist (cc), 4 Glen Young, 3 WP Nel, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Patrick Harrison, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cameron Scott

Venue: Scotstoun
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson (Scotland), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

Connacht v Ulster

The Connacht management team have welcomed back a number of Irish internationals for Friday’s crucial Christmas interpro with Ulster at The Sportsground in Galway.

There are 12 changes in all from the side that defeated Brive last week, with Shane Delahunt, Oisín Dowling and Bundee Aki the only players to retain their place in the starting XV.

Captain Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver and John Porch all return after being rested for the two weeks of Challenge Cup rugby, while Mack Hansen has recovered from injury to also start.

Denis Buckley completes the front-row with Delahunt and Bealham, while locks Josh Murphy and Niall Murray are paired together. Dowling retains his place at blindside flanker, with Oliver on the opposite side for his 50th appearance and Prendergast at number eight.

Caolin Blade is chosen at scrum-half while Tom Farrell partners Aki in the centre. With Hansen and Porch on the wings, Tiernan O’Halloran is named at full-back.

Meanwhile, in a combo which had its debut in last weekend’s Champions Cup game against La Rochelle, 21-year-old Nathan Doak is named at fly-half alongside this week’s scrum-half, John Cooney.

In an unchanged back three, Ulster born and bred Rob Lyttle, Ethan McIlroy and Mike Lowry are named. Luke Marshall, who scored the first try of this season in the opener against Connacht, is named in the centre alongside Stuart McCloskey.

British and Irish Lion Rory Sutherland retains his started position at loosehead prop and is paired with Marty Moore at tighthead. Ulster Rugby Academy graduate Tom Stewart, who has come a long way since making his first competitive start when the province last faced Connacht with 20 points scored across the 200 minutes he has played, completes the front-row.

Iain Henderson will captain the side from the second-row alongside another leader in the squad, Alan O’Connor. Nick Timoney, responsible for a try when Ulster were last in Galway, lines out at number eight, with flankers David McCann and Marcus Rea completing the pack.

Providing the forward cover will be John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, and Greg Jones. Stewart Moore, who contributed to last week’s try total, is named alongside Dave Shanahan and Jake Flannery as the backline replacements.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (c), 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Cian Prendergast, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Oisín Dowling, 5 Niall Murray, 4 Josh Murphy, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Adam Byrne

Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Ethan McIlroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Nathan Doak, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 David McCann, 5 Iain Henderson (c), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Stewart Moore

Venue: The Sportsground
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Andrew Cole (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

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