Burden to go to France

2013-09-18 00:00

THE Sharks, up against the Free State Cheetahs at King’s Park on Saturday afternoon, are again planning on rotating their team, while they are expecting to lose hooker Craig Burden to French club Toulon for the rest of the season.

Burden is to travel to Toulon next week for a trial and the Sharks have said they would not stand in his way if the explosive hooker is offered a contract.

Certainly, no one would begrudge the patient, 28-year-old former wing his day in the sun.

Since 2006, the uncomplaining Burden has spent much of his Sharks career on the bench, playing in the shadow of two Springboks, first John Smit and then Bismarck du Plessis, while the sudden emergence of Kyle Cooper last year has also limited his time in the starting line-up.

Bismarck du Plessis will be returning to the Sharks after the Rugby Championships early next month, and Cooper and Monde Hadebe will provide back-up.

In spite of their unconvincing form in recent weeks, the Sharks are again to spread the working load amongst the squad with as many as six changes.

“Rotation is part of the plan this week,” backline coach Sean Everitt confirmed after training yesterday and two of their experienced backrow, Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel, will be given a rest.

Marcell Coetzee, who has been in a non-playing role with the Springboks, will take over from Botes, who will return the captaincy to Keegan Daniel.

“Marcell is a very fit and enthusiastic young man,” said Everitt.

“He has a lot of energy and brings that to the team. Despite flying into Durban late on Sunday night, he was at rehab training first thing on Monday morning. He hasn’t shown any signs of fatigue, he’s got through both training sessions very well, so we expect him to give of his best.

“It’s a good opportunity for him to prove himself to the Springbok selectors after losing out in Australia and New Zealand, and he will be motivated.”

Daniel is to shift to number eight and Everitt said that Tera Mtembu, who had a number of impressive Super Rugby outings, “gets a deserved start” on the flank.

“Tera is a very good ball-carrier with good skills. Free State like to move the ball around so he gives us a bit of pace around the park.”

Louis Ludik (outside centre) will also be given a break and Heimar Williams, who played well at the start of the Currie Cup, will return.

“Heimar will start at 12 with Tim Whitehead moving to outside centre,” Everitt said.

He said that young Fred Zeilinga would replace Butch James at flyhalf in another rotational switch.

The experienced Odwa Ndungane returns to the side on the wing after missing three of the Sharks’ last four games because of a hamstring strain.

“Odwa is now 100% fit and we’re extremely excited to have him back. He brings a lot of experience to the team and people look at him as a leader in the squad.”

Everitt said that the Sharks lacked continuity on attack, possibly because of the many poor starts.

“We’ve played catch-up rugby in all six fixtures, possibly because of the nervousness early in the game. There have been a lot of close games, the Currie Cup as a whole has been very close,” Everitt said.

He said Free State, a Super Rugby team, had an experienced, ambitious team.

“They are a dangerous side. They know if they get one over us, they’ll be contenders for top spot as well, so it’s going to be a very competitive game.”

The match kicks off at 3 pm on Saturday.

Probable Sharks team to face Free State:

15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndunage, 13. Tim Whitehead, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Tera Mtembu, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Dale Chadwick.

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