Michalak named at flyhalf

2011-06-17 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has selected bravely and positively in naming Frenchman Frederick Michalak at flyhalf and dropping Springbok captain John Smit to the bench for tomorrow’s Super Rugby decider against the Bulls at Loftus.

Plumtree, clearly influenced by the last half-an-hour against the Lions at Ellis Park last Saturday — his replacements carried the Sharks to a 30-30 draw — has switched Pat Lambie from flyhalf to fullback and included Frenchman Michalak in the pivot role.

Michalak, signed just a fortnight ago, last played for the Sharks in 2008 when they won the Currie Cup, and his inclusion, with Lambie’s selection at fullback, should add variety to the team’s backplay.

Bismarck du Plessis, predictably, returns as hooker, but Smit, after starting in the last three games, is back on the bench with Beast Mtawarira preferred at loosehead prop.

The other selections have been dictated by flank Jean Deysel’s return from a two-week suspension and the fitness of a number of players.

Deysel takes over from Jacques Botes while Willem Alberts, not yet fully recovered from his sore shoulder, starts on the bench.

Another player returning from injury is Springbok tighthead Jannie du Plessis and he takes over from Eugene van Staden to beef up a pack that battled in the first half against the Lions.

Lock Steve Sykes has failed to recover from his bruised knee and Alistair Hargreaves is back and partnering Gerhard Mostert in the second row for what promises to be a tough evening against the Bulls’ veteran Springbok lock pairing of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

Michalak, Bismarck du Plessis, Hargreaves and centre Adi Jacobs, who will again be used as an impact player tomorrow, all played prominent roles as replacements at Ellis Park.

Plumtree has opted for a 5:2 split on the bench, with fullback Louis Ludik, dropped for the first time this season, joining Jacobs as the backline replacements, while Smit, prop Wiehahn Herbst, lock Ross Skeate, Alberts and flank Marcell Coetzee will cover the forwards.

The Sharks are fielding a mobile pack and they will clearly look to move the heavy Bulls forwards around Loftus.

The inclusion of Michalak certainly adds to the Sharks’ attacking options, but the Bulls are certain to run their big forwards down the inside channel and at the slightlybuilt Frenchman.

The Sharks’ starting line-up contains 14 internationals — Gerhard Mostert is the odd man out — while the Bulls have 12 Test caps, with wing Gerhard van den Heever and props Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling being the exceptions.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche (capt), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Gerhard Mostert, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Louis Ludik.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.

Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Akona Ndungane

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