Heads roll at Sharks

2013-04-25 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has thrown out the baby, the bath water and his captain in making a massive 10 changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby outing against the title-holding Chiefs in Hamilton.

Whether Plumtree has run out of patience with his senior players, or he is holding them back for less testing games later on the tour, is uncertain. However, the team is unrecognisable from the one which started against the Cheetahs less than a week ago.

Captain Keegan Daniel has dropped to the bench and only one forward, lock Anton Bresler, retains his starting position from last week. There is some continuity in the backline where four players, flyhalf Pat Lambie, inside centre Meyer Bosman, wing Odwa Ndungane and fullback Riaan Viljoen, are retained.

Plumtree, facing problems with jet lag, poor form and injuries to wing Andries Coetzee, centre Paul Jordaan and prop Beast Mtawarira, has been forced to field players out of position against the Chiefs.

Adding to his woes is the delay in flying in Mtawarira’s replacement from France. Specialist loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg has been in talks with his new French club Bayonne.

Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli told The Witness yesterday that the former Lions captain would arrive in Auckland only on Saturday. The result is that tighthead Wiehahn Herbst, who battled manfully on the loosehead against the Cheetahs, will be back in the same role against the Chiefs.

He is not the only one who will be out of position.

The struggling Frans Steyn, who has played everywhere in the backline but scrumhalf, now takes over from Jordaan at outside centre, while the former Sharks junior Piet Lindeque, now with the Blue Bulls and on loan, will play on the wing.

The experienced Charl McLeod takes over from Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf in the only unforced backline change. The switch of Herbst sees Jannie du Plessis back in the starting line-up at tighthead while Craig Burden is preferred at hooker to Kyle Cooper.

Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was on the flank against the Cheetahs, returns to the second row in place of Franco van der Merwe and he partners Bresler.

New captain Jean Deysel, Derick Minnie, who is on loan from the Lions, and Tera Mtembu take over in the back row from Du Toit, Marcell Coeztee and Daniel.

Dropping to the bench are Reinach, Cooper, Van der Merwe, Coetzee and Daniel, and they are joined by late tour arrivals, prop Danie Mienie and wing S’bura Sithole.

Sharks team: Riaan Viljoen, Odwa Ndungane, Francois Steyn, Meyer Bosman, Piet Lindeque, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Lubabalo Mtembu, Jean Deysel (captain), Derick Minnie, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Anton Bresler, Jannie du Plessis, Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst.

Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Danie Mienie, Franco van der Merwe, Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach, S’bura Sithole.

Kick-off: 9.35am.

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