Deysel heads home hurt, door opens for Ndlovu

2009-03-04 00:00

JOHN Plumtree has made two changes — one because of injury and one rotational — to the Sharks’ starting line-up for the Super 14 game against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

With Jean Deysel leaving for home to undergo intensive rehabilitation on his knee following the injury he sustained early in the Chiefs’ match in Hamilton last Saturday, Keegan Daniel, who came on as a replacement, has been named to start this weekend. This opens the door for loose forward Skholiwe Ndlovu, who gains selection in the match 22 for the first time at this level.

Should he play this weekend, Ndlovu will be only the 22nd player to have had game time for the Sharks this season.

In the other change, crowd favourite Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, finally over his sternum injury, has been included, with Deon Carstens playing off the bench.

There has been a mixed bag for the Auckland-based side, who have some returning players to ease their injury woes. They currently cite injury problems to All Black lock Anthony Boric (minor stress fracture to his elbow), Tasesa Lavea (grade one hamstring strain) and Rudi Wulf, who is still three weeks away from action following a fractured wrist sustained during pre-season. All three will miss the game on Saturday, while Benson Stanley has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring tear.

However, both Ali and Jay Williams have recovered from their injuries, (back and ankle respectively) and are available for selection, while Joe Rokocoko, Taniela Moa and Jerome Kaino all returned from paternity leave for the Stormers match after their record loss to the Bulls in Pretoria the previous match and will be available for selection against the Sharks.

With the Sharks maintaining continuity outside of Deysel’s unfortunate setback, the rest of the squad remains unchanged from last week. Momentum derived from being able to select an almost unchanged line-up week after week creates cohesion and in the past has been behind much of their success.

The Sharks have been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed wonderful weather with sustained sunshine in Taupo, where they have been based since Sunday. This has afforded them not only the perfect conditions to enjoy excellent preparation, but has added to the vibe in the camp.

The last meeting between the two sides on New Zealand soil produced a narrow 22-17 victory for the Sharks.

In four encounters in Super 14 rugby, the Blues have yet to beat the Sharks.

Kick-off is at 6.30 am on Saturday (SA time).

Sharks team: 15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Adrian Jacobs, 12. Francois Steyn, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Ruan Pienaar, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Keegan Daniel, 6.

Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller (Capt), 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. John Smit, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Riaan Swanepoel, 22. Luzuko Vulindlu.

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