Baby Bok Jordaan given task of closing down Sonny Bill

2012-08-03 00:00

BABY Bok centre Paul Jordaan has been handed one of the toughest jobs in world rugby, closing down the threatening All Black Sonny Bill Williams in tomorrow’s Super Rugby final against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

The 20-year-old Jordaan and Springbok Pat Lambie, over their leg injuries, return in the only two changes to the Sharks team that started against the Stormers in Cape Town last Saturday.

Jordaan replaces the injured Tim Whitehead at inside centre while Lambie has been named at fullback, taking over from Riaan Viljoen who played at Newlands because of his prodigious kicking game.

There is, of course, a possibility that coach John Plumtree is stringing us along.

Taking a leaf from the book of his old coach Ian McIntosh, he has in the past sprung changes shortly before kick-off and last week at Newlands he rejigged his backline and made three positional changes to the team initially announced.

Jordaan, a Springbok Sevens player, is an exciting runner who helped the Baby Boks to their U20 World Cup title in June, but it was expected that Plumtree would select either Lambie, an excellent defender, or the heavier Meyer Bosman to oppose Williams.

Instead, Plumtree has gone with his smallest option and Jordaan (88 kg and 1,80 metres) will give away 20 kg to the imposing 108 kg and 1,94 metres Williams, whose strength is breaking the gainline and off-loading in the tackle.

There had also been some speculation that Plumtree might hold back some of his big guns for the second half when his players, after weeks of travel, will tire.

But yesterday he named the same pack which has seen the Sharks through the play-offs, with flank Willem Alberts again at lock. He does have five forwards — and only two backs — on the bench and they will have crucial roles to play in the final quarter.

“The continuity in selection is great at this stage of competition,” Plumtree said in Sydney yesterday shortly before the Sharks left their hotel to continue their great trek to Hamilton.

“We’ve had some problems in midfield [losing the unavailable Frans Steyn and Whitehead] so it’s fantastic having Pat Lambie and Paul Jordaan back now.”

Bismarck du Plessis will play his 100th Super Rugby game tomorrow, but he has shrugged off this personal milestone. He and the Sharks have bigger fish to fry.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie yesterday named an unchanged team with their captain and lock Craig Clarke cleared to play with a sore knee.

Clarke strained knee ligaments in the win over the Crusaders a week ago and he has spent the week on the treatment table.

Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith said they had battled to produce two impressive showings in succession all season but would have to against the Sharks.

“We’ve got to match our display against the Crusaders, otherwise we’re not going to win,” said Smith who coached the All Black backs at last year’s World Cup.

Smith told reporters he had been impressed with the Sharks.

“We’ve been watching them win eight of their last nine matches. They’ve had quite a number of sudden-death performances so they’re used to it, while we haven’t had to go down the same road.

“So they will have forged a really good spirit. They will be trying to battle that travel factor and they have come a long way, but you can win away from home and they’ve shown that.

“ They’re physical and probably the most talented South African team on paper,” Smith said.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (c), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Riaan Viljoen.

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.

Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia).

Kick-off: 9.35 am

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