Both Sharks and Lions teams disrupted by injury

2008-07-24 00:00

SPRINGBOK utility back Ruan Pienaar will play either at scrumhalf or flyhalf for the Sharks when they take on the Lions at King’s Park tomorrow evening.

Sharks coach John Plumtree named his starting line-up yesterday with Pienaar bracketed at both flyhalf — with Frederic Michalak — and scrumhalf with Scott Mathie.

The fitness of Michalak, who suffered a hip injury against Free State in last week’s humbling defeat, is causing concern, but Plumtree is hoping he will be passed fit to partner Pienaar at halfback.

If Michalak withdraws, Pienaar will play at flyhalf with Scott Mathie at scrumhalf.

Plumtree has rushed three of his four returning Springboks into the starting line-up with Odwa Ndungane taking over from Henno Mentz on the wing, Pienaar at halfback and Ryan Kankowski at number eight in place of Keegan Daniel.

Plumtree also included inside centre Brad Barritt in place of Andries Strauss, but that might prove wishful thinking. Barritt, dogged by injuries in recent weeks, tweaked a hamstring at practice yesterday and Strauss may well return.

Powerful flank Jean Deysel has been passed fit and he takes over from Nikolai Blignaut to provide the pack with an important boost.

The only returning Bok not starting is Beast Mtawarira. Plumtree has retained former Test props Deon Carstens and Jannie du Plessis and Mtawarira will be used off the bench.

In an attempt to improve the quality of the Sharks lineout play, Plumtree has included a specialist jumper in Albert van den Berg and he takes over from young Steven Sykes, who drops to the bench.

Plumtree said yesterday that the recalled Springboks should not be expected to transform the team on their own.

I think we have to work very hard, he admitted. Names are fine, but it’s the performance we are after and we haven’t played with a lot of confidence all year. Even though we have a Jean Deysel back, a Ryan Kankowski and a Beast, guys that can do some real damage in terms of attack, we still have to scrum well and our lineouts have to function.”

What may be of some consolation for Plumtree is that the Lions have also been disrupted by injury. Captain Cobus Grobbelaar is fit to start, but the backline has had to be rejigged by coach Eugene Eloff. Springbok centre Jaque Fourie has withdrawn and Jaco Pretorius will now take over at outside centre with Heinie Gordon coming in on the wing. Louis Strydom, the Lions flyhalf, is also sidelined and Earl Rose moves into the pivot role with Louis Ludik taking over at fullback.

Ryno Benjamin will now start on the wing.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm tomorrow.

TEAMS:

Sharks: 15. Stefan Terblanche 14. Chris Jordaan 13. Waylon Murray 12. Bradley Barritt 11. Odwa Ndungane 10. Frederic Michalak/Ruan Pienaar 9. Scott Mathie/Ruan Pienaar 8. Ryan Kankowski 7. Jean Deysel 6. Jacques Botes 5. Johann Muller (captain) 4. Albert van den Berg 3. Jannie du Plessis 2. Skipper Badenhorst 1. Deon Carstens

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden 17. Tendai Mtawarira 18. Steven Sykes 19. Keegan Daniel 20. Charl McLeod/Scott Mathie 21. Riaan Swanepoel 22. Andries Strauss

Lions: 15. Louis Ludik 14. Heini Gordon 13. Jaco Pretorius 12. Doppies la Grange 11. Ryno Benjamin 10. Earl Rose 9. Jano Vermaak 8. Willem Alberts 7. Franco van der Merwe 6. Cobus Grobbelaar (Captain) 5. Gerhard Mostert 4. Dewald Senekal 3. Lawrence Sephaka 2. Willie Wepener 1. Heinke van der Merwe

Replacements: 16. Ethienne Reynecke 17. Gert Muller 18. Anton van Zyl 19. Justin Wheeler 20. Chris Jonck 21. Michael Killian 22. Dusty Noble/Tsepo Kokoali

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