Sharks debut for two

2014-03-21 00:00

HIGHLY rated youngsters, Tim Swiel and teenager Andre Esterhuizen, are in line to make their Super Rugby debuts when the Sharks come up against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow.

The two youngsters were the only changes made to the match 23 when Sharks coach Jake White named his squad yesterday, with Heimar Williams and Jaco van Tonder being given game time with the Vodacom Cup side.

Both the 19-year-old Esterhuizen and the 20-year-old English-born Swiel are rated as bright prospects for the future, and White was confident they could make the step up.

“Tim Swiel covers fullback, wing and flyhalf so there’s an opportunity for us to rotate some of the players we’ve been using,” White told The Witness yesterday morning.

“Andre Esterhuizen can come in for Frans Steyn who’s played literally every minute of Super Rugby this year and we’ve obviously got to manage him going forward, so Andre doubles up there,” White said.

He also felt it was important to give players like Williams and Van Tonder — who have seen little action so far this term — 80 minutes game time.

“I think that for them to go down and play 80 minutes in a Vodacom Cup game is going to be good for us as we go along in this competition. The more guys that are game ready, the better it’s going to be for us as a group.”

The Sharks have already seen off the challenge of the Bulls’ forward pack, the Hurricanes’ All Blacks, the unpredictability of the Lions and the Reds’ halfback pairing of Quade Cooper and Will Genia so far this season. And, White knew exactly what to expect from Frans Ludeke’s Bulls at Loftus.

“They haven’t played differently for 30 years,” White said. “And, they won’t play differently at all. Kicks from nine, kicks from 10, maul, then a bit of a variation, then kick from nine, kick from 10, maul, that’s it,” he said.

Even with Jacques-Louis Potgieter now the starting flyhalf for the Pretoria-based team ahead of Louis Fouche who started the opening Super Rugby game, White didn’t think their game would change much.

“They play the same, they just change the guys. Dewald [Potgieter] will come in and do the same he did the year before. And whether they have Jacques-Louis or Pollard or whether it’s Morné Steyn, it’s exactly the same; maul, kick, maul, kick.”

White said they would try evolving their game in the hope to make it difficult to read for the Bulls in their home turf where they have claimed two consecutive wins.

It’s will be the first time the Sharks will play outside of their King’s Park fortress this season. “We are looking forward to playing away. It’s nice to play away from home. We enjoy our home crowd, but we know it was inevitable we’d hit the road and get an opportunity to play the Bulls at Loftus.

“They’ve got a great record there and as you’ve seen, they’re a very different side up there as they are when they play away from home, so it’s going to be a difficult game,” said White.

Tomorrow’s game will kick off at 7.10 pm and New Zealander Mike Fraser will be the referee. Fraser will be assisted by Craig Joubert and Jaco van Heerden, and the TMO will be Deon van Blommenstein. JP Pietersen, who retained his place in the starting 15 will be playing in his 100th Super Rugby game for the Sharks.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. S’bura Sithole, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Tera Mtembu, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Tim Swiel, 23. Andre Esterhuizen

Bulls: 15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Sampie Mastriet, 13. J J Engelbrecht, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield, Paul Willemse, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. Dean Greyling

Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Marcel vd Merwe, 18. TBA, 19. Jono Ross, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Handré Pollard, 22. Ulrich Beyers, 23. Morné Mellet.

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