Huge shake-up for Sharks

2013-03-21 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has not taken defeat lightly and has made a massive eight changes — one positional — to his starting line-up for Saturday evening’s Super Rugby outing against the Rebels at King’s Park in Durban.

In most cases, and following the limp display in losing 29-10 to the Brumbies at the weekend, Plumtree has dumped experience for youth.

A host of Springboks, including Frans Steyn, Ryan Kankowski, Jannie du Plessis and Charl McLeod, have been dropped to the bench.

“It was a poor performance and as a result there have been changes,” Plumtree said.

The Sharks coach said that it was a team rather than individual failing against the Brumbies.

“But we couldn’t react to the Brumbies’ pressure and you can’t ignore that,” he added.

“We were pleased with the impact off the bench of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst and Kyle Cooper and they are now rewarded.”

The three backline changes are on the wing with Lwazi Mvovo back for Odwa Ndungane, in midfield where Meyer Bosman takes over from Steyn and at scrumhalf with Cobus Reinach returning for Charl McLeod.

The four changes in personnel at forward see Jacque Botes, Du Toit, Herbst and Cooper included, while captain Keegan Daniel switches from flank to number eight.

Kankowski, lock Anton Bresler, who is nursing a shoulder injury, Jannie du Plessis and Craig Burden have been omitted.

The most significant change is the omission of the acclaimed Frans Steyn, who is battling with his form and conditioning.

“We’ve taken Frans out to give him a big week of conditioning and Meyer Bosman deserves an opportunity,” the coach said.

“I was really happy with what Pieter-Steph du Toit brought to the team last week and we’re continuing his development by giving him a start. It’s the same with Kyle Cooper.

“Meyer Bosman deserves an opportunity too and we’ve taken Frans out to give him quite a big week of conditioning.”

Plumtree said Jannie du Plessis had a minor knee injury and his wife is about to have a baby, “so he’s had a disrupted week”.

“Wiehahn Herbst starts at tighthead prop.

“Jacques Botes has been in great form so he gets a start this week and Ryan Kankowski will get a rest this week and the same as Craig Burden.

“They can show me what they have when they come off the bench.”

Plumtree admitted the Sharks were down in firepower with their most physical players, Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Bismarck du Plessis, sidelined by injury.

“We’re missing quality players and we know we’re not at full strength, but we still have a good side. We’ve won three games and only lost one so it’s not all bad. But we want to be better and we still have a strong squad,” he said.

The Rebels, fresh from their bye, have also made changes, but because they have key players returning from injury.

Captain Gareth Delve is back at number eight, while Wallaby Cooper Vuna, also back to full fitness, returns on the wing.

Head coach Damien Hill has handed the talented, New Zealand-born Jason Woodward a debut on the other wing.

“Cooper is renowned for his try-scoring ability, while Jason has already shown hsaid yesterday.

“Gareth [Delve] has made an immediate impact since returning.

“His on and off field leadership will be a great acquisition for this young Rebels side.”

Sharks: 15. Louis Ludik, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Jandre Marais, 19. Ryan Kankowski, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Frans Steyn, 22. Riaan Viljoen.

Rebels: 15 Angus Roberts, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson. Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jordy Reid, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Richard Kingi

Kick-off: 5.05 pm.

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (RSA).

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