Plumtree to ring the changes

2009-09-30 00:00

SHARKS head coach John Plumtree said yesterday that he will probably change at least half the team for Saturday evening’s Currie Cup game against the Lions at King’s Park.

Plumtree said yesterday that returning Springboks John Smit, Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane and Adi Jacobs, none of whom started against the Leopards last Friday, would all play a role against the Lions.

“We still have a couple of injury concerns but I’m hoping that I can field my strongest side against Griquas next weekend.

“We haven’t been able to put the same team out twice in a row, so I’m hoping to do that at least once before the play-offs.”

Plumtree said that Springbok lock Johann Muller is also back in consideration after coming through training, but injured flank Jean Deysel will not be available this weekend.

The Sharks coach said that centre Riaan Swanepoel was still struggling with a bruised shoulder and would be tested tomorrow before the team is named.

“I do have some options in midfield [with Adi Jacobs, Andries Strauss and Waylon Murray].”

Plumtree said the number of injuries had prevented the Sharks from working on their combinations.

“I want to settle on locks and the front row and want everything operating at full steam. The Blue Bulls are probably faced with same problem, but by the time we play Griquas I’m hoping I can pick the team I want.”

He said his players knew that the team would be selected on merit and not reputation.

“The result is that there is serious competition amongst the players, which is good news for us. We just need to work on making sure the team is focused and the players work together as team-mates. If we want to be a solid 22 going into a semi-final or final, we must make sure we are all working together for the team.”

Plumtree said that the Lions would provide their usual physical challenge on Saturday evening.

“They have big loose forwards in Minnie and Alberts and a powerful tight five. We are used to them being physically bigger, and we can’t allow them to get momentum.”

He said the Sharks’ mental preparation would be important.

“We can’t assume we will win. That’s the danger. The Lions have upset us here before, so we must make sure to treat them with utmost respect. They are still fighting for a semi-final place, so they’re a pretty dangerous side who will come here and give it a full crack. They have some individuals who can create damage so we need to be on the money.”

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm on Saturday and South Africa’s leading referee Jonathan Kaplan will be in charge.

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