John Bishop

2011-07-15 00:00

SPRINGBOK centre Marius Joubert has been rushed into the starting line-up and will make his debut for the new-look Sharks in the Currie Cup opener against the Blue Bulls at King’s Park tomorrow evening.

Joubert, a veteran of 30 Tests (with 29 tries) for the Springboks, is one of three new caps in the Sharks’ starting line-up which features just four players — Stefan Terblanche, Meyer Bosman, Frederic Michalak and new captain Keegan Daniel — who took to the field against the Crusaders in the Super Rugby quarter-final in Nelson late last month.

The Sharks, popular with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, are missing 16 Super Rugby regulars.

Still, coach John Plumtree has been able to select a useful combination with an experienced backline and an enthusiastic young pack of forwards.

The two youngsters added to the backline are recent Michaelhouse products, wing Mark Richards and scrumhalf Ross Cronje. The pair will be surrounded by internationals Terblanche, who has been switched to fullback to accommodate Joubert at centre, Bosman and flyhalf Michalak.

Louis Ludik has been moved from fullback to wing.

The Currie Cup debutants are Joubert, Richards and powerful flank Marcell Coetzee.

There are four potential new caps on the bench in lock Jan Andre Marais, flank Francois Kleinhans, scrumhalf Jacobus Reinach and wing Sibusiso Sithole.

While Plumtree has had to dig into his reserves, he has been through the experience before.

“This is my third time as a coach of a provincial team in a Rugby World Cup year, so this isn’t new to me,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity for younger players to come through. The big difference in South Africa is that there is still a lot of excitement about the Currie Cup. It’s still a major tournament and very important in the eyes of all the supporters and provinces.”

The experience up front is provided by number eight Keegan Daniel, flank Jacques Botes, lock Ross Skeate and tighthead Eugene van Staden while Craig Burden, who has waited patiently while John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis have shared the hooking duties in recent years, finally has his chance for an extended run.

“The youngsters may lack experience but they have all the enthusiasm.

“Everything they do at training is at 100 miles an hour and they’re just dying to get out there,” said Plumtree.

Plumtree said he had been encouraged by the pack’s performance in the friendly against SWD last week.

He said scrummaging coach Etienne Fynn has done excellent work with the young props.

“They were very good against SWD and I’m really excited about that.

“They’ve got the right mentality about wanting to scrum, hit rucks and tackle hard. If they can express themselves and not worry too about the pressure, they’ll grow as a group.”

He said that maintaining the intensity over a long competition is the challenge for the young players.

“When you’re experienced you learn to live with the pressures and it becomes natural. But when you’re young, having to front up every Saturday can be a grind.

“I hope we can keep the squad fit and rotate to give them a week off to re-build that enthusiasm. That’s the key, really,” he added.

The Sharks coach said he has two explosive ball-carriers at hooker in Burden and Kyle Cooper.

“Anton Bresler has an opportunity now with the locks that have left to get some continuity to his game at this level and Jan Andre Marais has impressed at age group level. It’s going to be good for them.”

He believes that flank Marcell Coetzee “will be a star for the Sharks in the future.”

“He’ll play a lot this year as will François Kleynhans, another outstanding prospect. They’re both very good loosies.”

The match kicks off at 5 pm tomorrow with the Sharks U19 (12.45 pm) and U21 (2.40 pm) teams also in action.

SHARKS TEAM

15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Louis Ludik, 13. Marius Joubert, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Mark Richards, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Eugene van Staden

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Jan Andre Marais, 19. Francois Kleinhans, 20. Jacobus Reinach, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Sibusiso Sithole.

Kick-off: 5.05 pm.

This weekend’s matches (home team first):

Today:

Lions vs Pumas (7.10pm).

Tomorrow

Western Province vs Griquas (3.00pm).

Free State vs Leopards (3.00pm)

Sharks vs Blue Bulls (5.00pm)

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