New Sharks side full of surprises

2012-05-24 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has sprung a couple of major surprises in making four changes to his starting line-up for Saturday night’s big Super Rugby derby clash with the log-leading Stormers at King’s Park.

The excellent form shown by replacement flyhalf Freddie Michalak against the Cheetahs last Saturday has persuaded Plumtree to rejig what was his first-choice backline with the Frenchman retaining his place.

Pat Lambie, originally selected at flyhalf for the Cheetahs game, was a late withdrawal because of concussion and flu. He is back in the team, but he has been selected at fullback with Riaan Viljoen dropping out of the squad of 22.

The third change to the backline named to face the Cheetahs has been forced on Plumtree by the groin injury suffered by inside centre Tim Whitehead. The tall Springbok, Meyer Bosman, who proved a capable second-half replacement in Bloemfontein, will start in his place.

There is just one change to the pack, but it is a significant one with the powerful, 118-kg Springbok Willem Alberts replacing the smaller, more mobile Jacques Botes.

Alberts, overlooked for a couple of games before playing off the bench against the Cheetahs, will bring added physicality to the Sharks pack, but Botes, playing his most effective rugby in seasons, is expected to play a prominent role in the final quarter when the game is less structured.

Plumtree has also made a couple of changes to the bench. Ludik, who is over his bicep injury, joins Springbok wing Odwa Ndungane among the replacements and Plumtree has again named five forward substitutes with specialist lock Pieter-Stephanus du Toit taking over from flank Jean Deysel.

Lambie’s switch to fullback will be watched with interest by new Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. Lambie played most of his rugby at fullback while in the junior ranks, but moved to flyhalf for the Sharks in 2010, and Meyer is expected to use him in the last line of defence against England next month with Morné Steyn at flyhalf.

The Stormers received a setback yesterday when in-form fullback Joe Pietersen, suffering from a back strain, was forced to withdraw.

Former Bulls wing Gerhard van den Heever has been promoted from the bench and lively Springbok Gio Aplon shifts to fullback from the right wing.

Coach Allister Coetzee, anticipating the toughest of forward battles, has opted for a 5:2 split on the bench, with the captain of the triumphant WP Vodacom Cup team, Nick Fenton-Wells, joining the replacements.

The Stormers, at the very top of the Super Rugby log, have won 10 of their 11 games this season.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. Pat Lambie, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (c), 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Willem Alberts, 5. Anton Bresler, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Pieter-Stephanus du Toit, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Ryan Kankowski, 21. Odwa Ndungane, 22. Louis Ludik.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Burton Francis

Kick-off: 7.10 pm.

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