Flanker Alberts won’t be ready for Stormers clash

2012-03-02 00:00

IT was bad news for the Sharks yesterday with robust Springbok flank Willem Alberts failing to convince coach John Plumtree that he was ready for the weekend’s Super Rugby outing against the Stormers in Cape Town.

The Sharks were hoping that the 118 kg Alberts, back from shoulder surgery, would spearhead their challenge against the Stormers, creating momentum and providing the forwards with a hard, physical edge.

But Alberts is at his most effective when he is confident and match fit and Plumtree obviously feels that the extended break has left him short on both counts.

The Sharks have had to make a change in the backrow for tomorrow night with number eight Ryan Kankowski out for a month with a fractured thumb and Jacques Botes, who had an excellent game off the bench against the Bulls a week ago, will start on the flank. Captain Keegan Daniel shifts from flank to number eight to accommodate Botes.

Plumtree has predictably promoted lock Ross Skeate off the bench in place of Anton Bresler and the Sharks are hoping that the former Western Province second-rower will secure a fair slice of ball against the two lighthouses in the Stormers lineout.

The Sharks coach has produced two surprises, choosing Wiehahn Herbst ahead of Jannie du Plessis on the tighthead and again preferring the creativity of Frederic Michalak, who was subdued at Loftus, to the tough, committed Charl McLeod at scrumhalf.

Inside centre Tim Whitehead, who made a promising debut for the Sharks at Loftus last Friday, has also been ruled out with a groin strain, but Plumtree has a readymade replacement in Meyer Bosman.

Loose forward Tera Mtembu and veteran Bok centre Marius Joubert join the replacement bench.

“It’s disappointing for us that Willem hasn’t made it this week,” Plumtree said yesterday, “but Tera Mtembu has done pretty well in the pre-season and it’s an opportunity for him.

“We wanted to give Wiehahn Herbst an opportunity on the tighthead. He’s had a really good pre-season and he deserves a chance. It’s the same with Ross Skeate who comes in to the second row.”

Plumtree said that his injury-hit team would have to bring physicality to their game.

“That’s a big part of it. But we also have to be smart and make sure that we play in the right areas and over the gain line. The basic principles of rugby apply when you play against these big teams,” the Sharks coach added.

The Sharks pack, without big boys Alberts, Jean Deysel, Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis, will struggle to create momentum against the fired-up home team.

But Stormers captain Jean de Villiers, taking over from the injured Schalk Burger, told reporters the contest would still be tough and bruising.

“The Sharks were disappointed last year when we beat them. We know they are a physical team so we are expecting a bit of a backlash both from their loss at Loftus last week and because of what they remember about last year’s games.

“We know we are going to be sore on Sunday morning.”

De Villiers said that Bok wing JP Pietersen, now playing at outside centre for the Sharks, would be a major threat.

“I believe JP is the most underrated player in the country. There have been times when I have been dumbfounded at the way that JP has been written off by people when he has been involved with the Springboks.”

TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Lubabalo Mtembu, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Paul Jordaan.

TEAMS

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schrueder, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm. Referee: Mark Lawrence (SA).

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