Mvovo gets first start for Sharks

2010-04-30 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has opted against risking number eight Ryan Kankowski in what promises to be a hectic and physical Super 14 crunch game against the log-leading Bulls at Loftus tomorrow night.

Earlier this week Plumtree suggested that Kankowski, who has recovered rapidly after breaking his thumb against the Reds in Durban a month ago, would be ready for the Bulls.

But Craig Roberts, the team doctor, said yesterday that the rangy number eight had been struggling with lifting the jumpers in the lineout.

“He came through a series of functional tests well at the beginning of the week, but it was just the lifting that was a problem. I’m sure he’ll be ready for the Stormers [in Durban] next weekend.”

Roberts said that after “a busy week for the medical team with all the injuries” scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and backrow forward Willem Alberts have been cleared for selection.

Plumtree named his starting line-up yesterday and there are two changes to the team that beat the Blues in Durban last weekend, and both are injury-related.

Riaan Swanepoel (leg injury) is back to full fitness and he returns at inside centre for Andries Strauss. And, on the wing, the 23-year-old Lwazi Mvovo will make his first Super 14 start for the Sharks in place of Springbok JP Pietersen, who has been sidelined with a knee cartilage problem.

The chunky, 91-kg Mvovo, who replaced Pietersen in the first half against the Blues, had a lively game, but he will have his hands full tomorrow when he comes up against the Bulls’ exciting Gerhard van den Heever, the leading try-scorer (seven) in this year’s Super 14.

Plumtree, for the third successive game, has been able to name an unchanged pack, one which has excelled in fashioning victories over the Lions and Blues.

There is a welcome return on the bench with flank Keegan Daniel back from his four-week injury break to add some mobility to the pack in the second half.

The news from the Bulls camp is that Bok wing Akona Ndungane, who broke his leg on Wednesday morning, will be out for the year. The break is a recurrence of the injury he suffered in the Currie Cup last year.

Ndungane, who is to undergo surgery with a pin inserted in his leg, will be able to resume his playing career after rehabilitation, the Bulls management said yesterday.

Two other Bulls backs, Jaco van der Westhuyzen (calf muscle) and Jaco Pretorius (ankle ligament), should both be fit to be considered for selection against the Crusaders next Friday.

The Bulls and the Sharks will play to a full house tomorrow. The Bulls announced yesterday that tickets for the game had been sold out two days ahead of kick-off.

The match kicks off at 7.10 pm.

Sharks team:

15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Riaan Swanepoel, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Andy Goode, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. John Smit (capt ).

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Tendai Mtawarira, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Andries Strauss, 22. Luzuko Vulindlu.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA).

Super 14 preview, fixtures and standings, page 27.

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