Five Bok forwards in Sharks pack vs Saracens

2014-01-24 00:00

COACH Jake White has crammed five current Springbok forwards into his Sharks pack to face Saracens in tomorrow’s friendly in London while there is a young and experimental look to the backline.

White was forced to make three late changes to his touring squad with backrowers Marcell Coet­zee and Keegan Daniel, along with centre Frans Steyn, withdrawing with fitness concerns. The injuries are reportedly light and should not prevent them playing against the Bulls in the Super Rugby opener in Durban on February 15.

The Sharks arrived in London early yesterday and White released his match squad hours later.

The Sharks will field the Springboks’ first-choice front-row of the Du Plessis brothers, captain Bismarck and Jannie, along with loosehead Beast Mtawarira. The talented Pieter-Steph du Toit will lock the scrum while, in the absence of Daniel and Japan-based Ryan Kankowski, Springbok flank Willem Alberts has been shifted to number eight.

Jean Deysel and Tera Mtembu complete the reshuffled backrow while the 21-year-old Etienne Oosthuizen, who followed White from the Brumbies in the close season, will lock the scrum with Du Toit.

There is a fresh but inexperienced look to the backline. The former Western Province U21 flyhalf Tim Swiel takes over from the honeymooning Pat Lambie while Jaco Reinach is given an early run ahead of Charl McLeod at scrumhalf.

The injury to Frans Steyn has resulted in the selection of 20-year-old Andre Esterhuizen at inside centre. He will partner Paul Jordaan, who returns to action after an extended injury break following knee surgery, in the midfield.

With SP Marais recovering from shoulder injury, Tyler Fisher, another Sharks U21 centre, has been switched to fullback. He will have the support of two experienced wings in Springboks Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane.

The most recent Springbok to join the Sharks, former Griqua tighthead Lourens Adriaanse, is on the bench along with forwards Dale Chadwick, Kyle Cooper and Stephan Lewies while Jaco van Tonder and Heimar Williams join McLeod in providing backline cover.

Fred Zeilinga and Monde Hadebe have also travelled to London but they miss out on the action and will watch from the grandstand.

Saracens named a powerful match squad late yesterday and included a host of internationals and a number of South Africans for the match at Allianz Park.

Former England captain and lock Steve Borthwick will captain the side from lock, and is partnered by another Test second-rower in Mouritz Botha. In the front row, British and Irish Lions tighthead prop Matt Stevens starts, and is joined by Springbok hooker Schalk Brits.

Three South Africans, Jacques Burger (formerly of the Blue Bulls), Justin Melck (WP) and the experienced former Golden Lions number eight Ernst Joubert, form the backrow.

Former Springbok scrumhalf Neil de Kock is partnered by the English Premiership’s record points scorer Charlie Hodgson while Argentine international Marcelo Bosch pairs up with Fijian Michael Tagicakibau in the midfield. European rugby’s leading try scorer, David Strettle, starts on the left wing with the USA international Chris Wyles at fullback.

The Sharks will provide “a massive challenge”, Saracens scrumhalf De Kock said in London yesterday. The lively De Kock, who has 10 caps for the Boks, has been a regular in the Saracens line-up in recent years. “We’ve got quite a few South Africans at the club so to come against a Sharks outfit loaded with current Springboks is going to be a massive challenge for us.”

He said he would not be out to prove a point against the Sharks.

“I just think it’s wonderful to play against them. I haven’t played in South Africa for seven or eight years so it will be a great challenge. I’ll be up against guys who were starting off as I was finishing in South Africa and that will be exciting. They are coming over in their pre-season and so I’m hoping we will be able to give them a good test,” said De Kock.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. Tyler Fisher, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Tim Swiel, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Tera Mtembu, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Stephan Lewies, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. Jaco van Tonder.

Saracens: 15. Chris Wyles; 14. James Short, 13. Michael Tagicakibau, 12. Marcelo Bosch, 11. David Strettle; 10. Charlie Hodgson, 9. Neil de Kock; 1. Richard Barrington, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. Matt Stevens, 4. Steve Borthwick (c), 5. Mouritz Botha, 6. Justin Melck, 7. Jacques Burger, 8. Ernst Joubert.

Replacements: 16. Scott Spurling, 17. Nick Auterac, 18. Petrus Du Plessis, 19. Tom Jubb, 20. Takashi Kikutani, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Duncan Taylor, 23. Sam Stanley.

Kick-off: 4.30 pm (SA time). TV coverage: CSN, SS1 and SSHD.

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