Plumtree reshuffles Sharks’ front row

2010-03-12 00:00

THE musical chairs in the Sharks scrum continued yesterday when head coach John Plumtree returned to the Springbok front row of Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and John Smit.

The Sharks scrummed exceptionally well against the all-Wallaby front row of the Waratahs last Saturday, but Plumtree has nevertheless opted to rotate his big men. Captain Smit has switched from hooker back to tighthead prop with Jannie du Plessis dropping to the bench. Bismarck du Plessis is back at hooker, while Mtawarira takes over from Deon Carstens at loosehead.

The Sharks scrum has certainly appeared more settled this season with Jannie du Plessis on the tighthead, but the good doctor’s lack of discipline, and another yellow card against the Waratahs, are a cause for concern. Plumtree has promised to tighten up the Sharks’ discipline after five yellow cards in four games and benching Jannie du Plessis can be seen as a reprimand. But, of course, he also has to keep his captain and first-choice hooker in the mix.

The other change to the starting line-up is on the flank where Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel again swop places.

Daniel took a bump on the head against the Waratahs, but he has been cleared to play and will be on the bench. Jean Deysel ended the Waratahs match strongly, but he remains on the bench with Plumtree preferring Willem Alberts at blindside flank.

There are no changes to the back division. Andy Goode, after a workmanlike rather than spectacular showing against the Waratahs, remains at flyhalf and partners Ruan Pienaar at halfback.

In the other changes to the bench, Alistair Hargreaves, who joined the squad this week, is the lock replacement ahead of Wilhelm Steenkamp, while the explosive Craig Burden is the hooker replacement.

The Sharks, who are based in Sydney, end their tough overseas tour with games against the Hurricanes and Highlanders in New Zealand over the next fortnight.

They are very much the underdogs for tomorrow’s game following four successive defeats and with only one win (in 1998) in Canberra, and Plumtree agrees the Sharks face a major challenge.

“The Brumbies are a side that can seriously hurt you if they get front-foot ball for their game breakers. The thing with the new law interpretations is that you have to be clever with how you compete at the breakdowns. The ball can come out so quickly now that you don’t want to have committed too many players to the ruck when they could be better used waiting in defence.”

The match kicks off at 10.40 am tomorrow.

15. Stefan Terblanche

14. Odwa Ndungane

13. Adrian Jacobs

12. Riaan Swanepoel

11. JP Pietersen

10. Andy Goode

9. Ruan Pienaar

8. Ryan Kankowski

7. Willem Alberts

6. Jacques Botes

5. Johann Muller

4. Steven Sykes

3. John Smit (capt)

2. Bismarck du Plessis

1. Tendai Mtawarira

REPLACEMENTS:

16. Craig Burden

17. Jannie du Plessis

18. Alistair Hargreaves

19. Jean Deysel

20. Keegan Daniel

21. Rory Kockott

22. Waylon Murray

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