Plumtree drops three Boks

2013-04-19 00:00

THREE of the Sharks’ celebrated Springboks — Frans Steyn, Ryan Kankowski and Jannie du Plessis — have been dropped from the starting line-up for tomorrow evening’s Super Rugby derby against the Cheetahs at King’s Park.

A fourth Springbok, the influential, in-form wing JP Pietersen, has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

John Plumtree says it has been the most difficult week of his coaching career, but there was a flicker of good news yesterday when flank Jean Deysel was passed fit for the Cheetahs game.

Plumtree is reeling after a series of injuries to eight key players, the poor form shown by senior Springboks and the team’s general lack of intensity and cohesion. There is little the Sharks coach can do about the missing wounded, but he has punished poor form by dropping the three senior Boks.

Riaan Viljoen takes over from Steyn at fullback, Deysel is Kankowski’s replacement on the flank and the energetic Wiehahn Herbst dislodges Du Plessis at tighthead.

All three discards are members of Heyneke Meyer’s training squad and their lack of form will be of concern to the Springbok coach ahead of the June internationals.

Odwa Ndungane will start in Pietersen’s place on the wing. Pietersen is not short of company on the sidelines, where he has joined outside backs Louis Ludik, Lwazi Mvovo and Tim Whitehead, flyhalf Butch James, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and flanks Willem Alberts and Jacques Botes.

Adding to Plumtree’s problems was this week’s two-day Springbok camp, which swallowed up most of his players and reduced the Sharks’ preparation to just two training sessions.

“It’s been no fun at all,” he said about his week. “I’ve never experienced something like this in my coaching career so it’s a good test for me. It’s stressful for everyone involved but we’ve got to focus on who is fit and keep on functioning well so that we can win at the weekend.”

The return of Deysel for Kankowski does provide him with the bulk he needs in the backrow, but the axing of under-performing senior players, following on the many injuries, has left the Sharks looking vulnerable.

Steyn, covering centre and fullback and Du Plessis are on the bench, but Plumtree said that the jaded Kankowski faced a lengthy break and he will not be with the Sharks when they leave on their tour of New Zealand and Australia on Sunday. Flank Tera Mtembu has been added to the bench and he will tour in place of Kankowski.

“Ryan’s form is alarming for me because he’s one of our better players. But we’ll back Tera. He’s had some time in the Currie Cup and a little in Super Rugby. He’s confident about playing at this level. He’ll get more time touring with us,” said Plumtree.

He also hopes that Willem Alberts will be cleared to tour.

“Willem has a fitness test this week to see if he’ll play a role in the Vodacom Cup this weekend.”

Plumtree has also added Lions’ fullback/wing Andries Coetzee to the bench for tomorrow’s game. “We’ve just got to dig in and get on with it and we’ve brought in some players. But it hasn’t been easy getting a team together for this weekend and also getting a squad ready to tour.”

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan,12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Sean Robinson, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Keegan Daniel (c), 7. Jean Deysel , 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Tera Mtembu, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Francois Steyn, 22. Andries Coetzee.

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Landman Ligtoring, 19 Frans Viljoen, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Francois Brummer Francois, 22 Ryno Benjamin.

Kick-off: 5.05 pm. Referee: Jonathan White (NZ).

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