Beast back for Bulls clash

2013-05-24 00:00

THE Beast is back, but the importance of the occasion has not tempted Sharks coach John Plumtree into rushing back recovering Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Butch James for tomorrow night’s Super Rugby derby against the buoyant Bulls.

Du Plessis and James have both recovered from their knee surgery, and have trained with the squad all week, but Plumtree said yesterday that the two were not yet match fit and they have not been included in his 22-man match squad.

But back in the starting line-up after a five-week injury break is Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira, who takes over from JC Janse van Rensburg on the loosehead.

Van Rensburg has been on loan from the Lions since Mtawarira tore his calf muscle against the Cheetahs on the eve of the Sharks’ Super Rugby tour of New Zealand and Australia.

But the Sharks’ injury bogey was busy again yesterday when lock Anton Bresler went down with a damaged shoulder during practice.

He joins centre/wing JP Pietersen on the sidelines in the two other changes to the team that beat the Force last Friday.

“Butch James and Bismarck du Plessis aren’t fit yet so they haven’t been included,” said Plumtree in naming the team yesterday.

“But we’ve been forced to make changes with JP out and Anton [Bresler] hurting his shoulder in training today.”

Piet Lindeque, the former Sharks junior centre but now on loan from the Blue Bulls, replaces Pietersen at outside centre while Pieter-Steph du Toit takes over from Bresler in the second row.

Significantly, these recent injuries to Pietersen and Bresler deny the Sharks two of their more physical players for what will be the most bruising of battles. There is some relief with Mtawarira rejoining fellow-Springbok Jannie du Plessis in the front row with Wiehahn Herbst providing excellent cover off the bench.

Lock Jandre Marais and young wing Sean Robinson join the bench in place of the promoted Du Toit and Lindeque.

The Bulls can take a huge step towards winning the South African conference by prevailing tomorrow, while a Sharks defeat will snuff out any chance of them perhaps squeaking into the play-offs.

“This is a big game for both teams,” said Plumtree.

“The Bulls have been playing really well lately. Their forwards have dominated and they’re enjoying playing with that momentum. They’ve also dominated territory through their kicking game and we know it’s going to be a really tough game for us.”

Plumtree said the Sharks’ preparations this week had been curtailed following their tiring four-match tour of Australia and New Zealand.

“Although our preparation this week has been quite short, we have trained well, and we’re looking forward to putting our plans into place.

“The boys can go out there and enjoy what will be a massive clash.

“It’s great to be back home, playing at our stadium, and I hope we’ll get a really good crowd on Saturday.”

The Bulls said yesterday that prop Frik Kirsten, and not Werner Kruger, would start tomorrow’s match.

Their names were switched erroneously at Wednesday’s team announcement, the Bulls said in a statement.

A final call on the fitness of Louis Fouche and Jan Serfontein would be made at the team’s captain’s run in Durban today.

Sharks team: 15. Riaan Viljoen,14. Odwa Ndungane,13. Piet Lindeque,12. Meyer Bosman,11. Lwazi Mvovo,10. Pat Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (capt), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

R eplacements: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Jandre Marais, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Lubabalo Mtembu, 21. Tian Meyer, 22. Sean Robinson

Kick-off: 7.10 pm. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first, SA times):

TODAY:

Chiefs v Crusaders — 9.35 am

Rebels v Waratahs — 11.40 am

TOMORROW:

Blues v Brumbies — 9.35 am

Force v Highlanders — 11.40 am

Kings v Cheetahs — 3 pm

Stormers v Reds — 5.05 pm

Sharks v Bulls — 7.10 pm

Bye: Hurricanes

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