Plumtree to recall seniors in Dunedin

2013-05-02 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree is set to recall most of his regulars for Saturday’s Super Rugby outing against the Highlanders in Dunedin after they were rested against the Chiefs.

Plumtree, for a variety of reasons, made 10 changes for the game in Hamilton and the news from Queenstown is that he will make six more when he names his team today, with a host of his senior players returning against the Highlanders.

Keegan Daniel is to return as captain, but will play at flank with the young Tera Mtembu, who enjoyed an excellent debut against the Chiefs, retained at number eight.

Bok flank Marcell Coetzee will also be back to complete the loose trio with flanks Jean Deysel and Derrick Minnie dropping to the bench.

Wings JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo are up and running after suffering injuries. Plumtree is considering fielding Pietersen at outside centre, but Frans Steyn showed signs of returning to life against the Chiefs and he could again start out of position at 13.

The Sharks coach faces an awkward selection at loosehead now that specialist JC Janse van Rensburg, who is on loan from the Lions, has joined the squad. The indications are that Plumtree will retain tighthead Wiehahn Herbst on the loosehead after his strong showing against the Chiefs and play Van Rensburg off the bench.

Kyle Cooper seems certain to return at hooker for Craig Burden, with lock Franco van der Merwe rejoining Pieter-Steph du Toit in the second row. There will be one new face on the bench with scrumhalf Tian Meyer.

The Highlanders are coming off a bye last weekend and are determined to end their nightmare run which has seen them lose eight games on the trot. Critics in New Zealand are at a loss to explain the Highlanders’ lack of success after they bolstered their squad with a number of close season, big-name signings.

Former All Black and Lions (Cats) coach Laurie Mains believes the Highlanders made the mistake of replacing a core of young and exciting players with high profile players in the twilight of their careers.

He said it was wrong to axe captain Jamie McIntosh, who epitomised the enthusiasm in a young Highlander side, with All Blacks loosehead prop Tony Woodcock.

Still, the Highlanders have a number of internationals in their side with strong centre Tamati Ellison, after an extended injury break, rejoining another All Black in Ma’a Nonu in the midfield.

Hosea Gear, an excellent finisher, is on the wing while the Highlanders have an experienced tight five which includes All Blacks in captain and hooker Andrew Hore, grizzled lock Brad Thorn and Woodcock.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 9.35 am (SA time) with Steve Walsh, a New Zealander based in Australia, the referee.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first, SA times)

Tomorrow: Blues v Stormers — 9.35 am

Rebels v Chiefs — 11.40 am

Saturday: Highlanders v Sharks — 9.35 am

Force v Reds — 11.40

Kings v Waratahs — 5.05 pm

Bulls v Hurricanes — 7.10 pm

Sunday: Brumbies v Crusaders — 7.05 am

Bye: Cheetahs

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