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Sharks stars Ox Nche, Siya Masuku and Makazole Mapimpi


The Hollywoodbets Sharks have etched their names into the history books by becoming the first South African rugby team to make the play-offs of a European competition and the first side from the republic to play in a semi-final of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

It will be a clash of the ages when the Hollywoodbets Sharks host ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Twickenham Stoop in London tomorrow (sat)  with a call from the players to have the large base of ex-pat South Africans and rugby fans in London to rally behind the team.

“We are thrilled to have got this far in the EPCR Challenge Cup, but our campaign in this competition is not over yet; our ambitions and goals are much bigger than playing in a semi-final,” Hollywoodbets Sharks head coach John Plumtree admitted, emphasising the importance of this match and the fact that this is the road to redemption for the team.

“We look forward to having our overseas fans supporting us as we look to redeem our season. We know we haven’t always performed this season to a level we consistently aim for, but we needed time and we’ve shown over the last couple of months that this team really has the potential, the talent and the commitment to go all the way.

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that we want to play in the EPCR Champions Cup next year and our goal to win the Challenge Cup remains our priority.”

Captain Lukhanyo Am admits that his team is ready and excited for the challenge that lies ahead, confident in the way they’ve gone about readying themselves for this knock-out game.

“In games like this, it’s about getting the best prep and we’ve done a great deal to put ourselves in this position and once you’re in the changeroom, it’s about having confidence in the prep you’ve done,” he explained from the team’s base in London.

“This game is a big one for us and everyone is hyped and excited to be playing in a semi against a quality side like Clermont.”

Included in the Hollywoodbets Sharks squad are no fewer than seven victorious Webb Ellis Cup winning Springboks, who are expected to line up for the team in this semi-final clash with front rowers Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Vincent Koch likely to feature alongside the 2023 World Rugby Player of the Year nominee and consecutive SA Rugby Player of the Year winner, lock Eben Etzebeth.

Other Springboks likely to feature include scrum halves Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams, as well as the celebrated pairing of outside centre Lukhanyo Am and wing Makazole Mapimpi.

“We’re really excited for this match,” said Hollywoodbets Sharks captain Lukhanyo Am.

“We know as a knock-out game and as the first South African team to reach this level of competition that we need to give it our all, and we promise that we will leave everything on the field, and are excited to make The Stoop Our Stoep.

“We earned the right to play a home semi-final in London and we would love to have the support of the Springbok and Sharks fans at The Stoop.”

“The team is in a good space, over the past six weeks we’ve come together, we’ve gelled, we’ve played some great rugby and we’ve won important games, so the belief is there, the momentum too and we will take confidence from that into the semi-final.

“We had a tough start to the season, but recent results and the opportunity ahead of us proves that we’re on the right path, and we will give this semi-final our best shot.”








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