JP could move to centre forLions tie

2012-05-30 00:00

SPRINGBOK wing JP Pietersen could find himself back at outside centre for Saturday evening’s ­Super Rugby derby against the ­Lions at Ellis Park.

Sharks coach John Plumtree again has midfield problems with Tim Whitehead (injured bicep) ruled out for another week and the young Paul Jordaan, who has been impressive at outside centre in recent outings, is with the South African U20 squad preparing for next week’s IRB Junior World Championships in Cape Town.

Plumtree told The Witness yesterday that he hoped Jordaan would be back in Durban in time for tomorrow’s practice.

“Rudolf Straeuli is dealing with this, but we want Paul back for the Lions.”

The Stormers, meanwhile, have accepted that their SA U20 loosehead, Steven Kitshoff, will not be released and it seems unlikely that Jordaan will receive preferential treatment.

Straeuli said he was travelling to Cape Town to speak to SA U20 coach Dawie Theron.

“We’ll have our answer by Thursday,” Straeuli said.

Plumtree has options and the most obvious is to shift Pietersen back to outside centre, where he played the first half of this year’s competition, and include either fit-again Louis Ludik, who dropped a weight on his foot in the gym last week, or Odwa Ndungane on the wing.

Plumtree said yesterday that the Sharks’ attitude was critical in this week’s build-up to play the Lions, who have been beaten by just about everyone and returned this week from their tour.

“Keeping focus before the month-long break is vitally important for us,” he said.

“It’s a big week for us in terms of attitude. The Lions have had a tough season and they’ve had a lot of off-field distraction, which hasn’t helped them. They’ve suffered a lot of injuries and it’s hard enough to do well with a fit squad in this competition.

“But we know that spending time on tour together builds a lot of team spirit. And no one really hammered them on tour and we have to go up to Ellis Park and show them the right amount of respect.”

Plumtree has not needed to remind his players that they lost to the Lions in the Currie Cup final last year and drew the Super Rugby game in Johannesburg.

“We’ve had a tough couple of visits to Ellis Park and they will get up for this derby game.”

Butch James will probably return at centre after a four-week suspension for shoulder-charging Brumbies lock Scott Fardy.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 5.05 pm with New Zealand referee Garratt Williamson in charge. Jonatahn Kaplan will handle the crunch game between the Bulls and Stormers at Loftus (7.10 pm).

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