Plumtree spoilt for choice after seven Boks return

2011-08-02 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree will agonise over selection for the Currie Cup match against Griquas in Kimberley on Friday night with seven Springboks joining his unbeaten squad this week.

Plumtree said that after the 43-34 win over the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday, players released by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers after the Tri-Nations tour would not be automatic selections.

“I’m really happy with this current group of players,” said Plumtree of his young team.

“If they can prove to me that they can keep playing like this, then some reputations might be sitting on the bench, or not even playing.”

And certainly Plumtree is now spoilt for choice with seven Boks — Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, Adi Jacobs, Pat Lambie, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski and Alistair Hargreaves — arriving at yesterday’s practice.

Lambie’s release by the Springboks is most surprising and Plumtree could use him at fullback while retaining the in-form Frederic Michalak at flyhalf, though this would be hard on Louis Ludik, who was prominent in the win over the Cheetahs.

Plumtree’s biggest headache will be on the wing where he has to choose between two of Saturday’s successes, Sibusiso Sithole and Mark Richards, and Springboks Mvovo and Ndungane.

Centre Jacobs joins Stefan Terblanche, Marius Joubert and Meyer Bosman in vying for the midfield positions, and scrumhalf Ross Cronje is now under pressure from McLeod.

Kankowski provides options in the backrow where young Marcel Coetzee has been operating effectively alongside Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel.

Plumtree said that the groin injury suffered by lock Ross Skeate in the first half on Saturday did not appear to be serious, but the return of Hargreaves does provide him with a readymade replacement in the second row.

De Villiers has kept the Sharks’ four front-rowers (John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis) in his squad but Plumtree’s youngsters (Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst and Dale Chadwick, backed by veteran Eugene van Staden) have stood up strongly in the opening three Currie Cup games.

Plumtree will not want to break the Sharks’ early momentum by making drastic changes, but it is likely that a couple of Boks (possibly Lambie, McLeod and Hargreaves) will start on Friday night with the other internationals playing off the bench.

The game in Kimberley kicks off at 7:10 pm.

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