Fitter, trimmer Smit to captain Sharks from loosehead

2011-02-18 00:00

JOHN Smit, entirely predictably, will captain the Sharks from loosehead prop when they open their Super Rugby campaign against the Cheetahs at King’s Park tomorrow evening.

Coach John Plumtree, who has said that the fitter, trimmer Smit will be rotated and managed during the long season, yesterday included the Bok captain alongside the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, in an all-Bok front-row.

Plumtree also named two props on the bench in Beast Mtawarira and Eugene van Staden. With Craig Burden nursing a sore ankle, Smit will cover for Bismarck du Plessis at hooker.

Smit was moved from hooker to tighthead prop after the 2007 Rugby World Cup, as Bok coach Peter de Villiers looked to include his captain in the starting line-up against the British Lions while including the dynamic Bismarck du Plessis in the front-row. Smit had a chequered career at tighthead, but blossomed when he moved to loosehead during the second half of the Sharks’ Super 14 season last year.

Jacques Botes was yesterday named on the flank with last year’s outstanding loose forward Keegan Daniel, who has played only briefly in the pre-season friendlies because of an ankle problem, starting off the bench.

The only change to the backline that won the Currie Cup final at the end of October is at inside centre where the smooth-passing Springbok Meyer Bosman, making his Sharks debut, takes over from Andries Strauss who will be in the Cheetahs line-up tomorrow.

Odwa Ndungane is on the wing in place of JP Pietersen, who has a hamstring strain. The tall Bok wing, flank Jean Deysel and reserve lock Ross Skeate were the only players not considered because of injury.

The Sharks’ two other new signings, flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter and scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman, are on the bench.

The Sharks’ lock pairing of Steve Sykes and Alistair Hargreaves were both passed fit this week after pre-season injury concerns.

The starting line-up includes 13 players who have seen action for the Springboks — fullback Louis Ludik and Botes are the exceptions — while the powerful bench includes three more Boks in Mtawarira, Daniel and centre Adi Jacobs.

Cheetahs centre Andries Strauss told News24 that he hopes the Free Staters will continue the good form they have shown in Durban in recent years when he had often suffered while playing for the Sharks.

“It’s going to feel strange to play in Durban with a white jersey and not a black one. But I can’t just think of myself. It’s about the team and we want to win this game,” Strauss told News24.

He will be opposite Meyer Bosman and said they know one another’s tricks.

“Meyer is a good player, especially with regards his distribution. He reads the game very well. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend. I’m looking forward to playing against him.”

Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie agreed that Bosman will be a threat.

“Meyer will fit into the Sharks’ game plan. He is a good playmaker. He should come into his own there and is likely to have a good tournament. We’ll have to be well-organised on defence and need to pressurise him.

“The important thing is to give Meyer little time to play his game. He likes to offload the ball in contact. It will be an interesting duel between him and Andries. They know each other and will be out to prove a point.”

Craig Joubert will referee the game, which starts at 5.05 pm.

Teams

Sharks:

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. John Smit (captain).

Replacements: 16. Tendai Mtawarira, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Conrad Hoffmann, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Adrian Jacobs.

Cheetahs:

15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Philip Burger, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Ryno Benjamin, 10. Naas Olivier, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Kabamba Floors, 7. Philip van der Walt, 6. Frans Viljoen, 5. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4. Francois Uys, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen.

Replacements: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Kobus Calldo, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Riaan Viljoen.

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