Sharks in Bok clothing

2014-08-12 00:00


With uncertainty in the second row, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer could well go for a tried and tested all-Sharks front row to provide a strong platform at scrum time. That means brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis will once again partner with Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira,

although the latter is returning from injury. Meyer will most likely stick with his Sharks charges who boast 169 Test caps between them. Mtawarira’s return from injury could see Meyer opt for the experience of Gurthrö Steenkamp at loosehead, with Frans Malherbe also likely to take a place on the bench.


Lock is the current thorn in the Bok coach’s side. Victor Matfield has been ruled out of the opening clash and many thought that young Sharks lock Stephan Lewies would join the squad. That honour went to Bok stalwart Juan Smith who has rejuvenated his career at Toulon in France. Meyer is likely to go for the combination of Bakkies Botha and Lood de Jager, but Eben Etzebeth is also in the mix, even if he was a bit off the pace for Western Province on Friday. Meyer could even consider Willem Alberts as cover in the second row. Expect to see Etzebeth or Smith as cover on the bench.


Meyer has a bit of a selection poser with plenty of big names to choose from in his loose trio. Sharks hard man Willem Alberts is likely to pack down on the blindside while Francois Louw will cover the openside. Energetic Sharks flank Marcell Coetzee is likely to be used as an impact player, as Meyer will no doubt bank on his more experienced players to start. Duane Vermeulen has all but made the number eight jersey his own and was solid at the back of the scrum for the Boks in the June internationals.


Former Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is most likely to start for the Boks in the absence of the injured Fourie du Preez and Morné Steyn will steer the Boks from flyhalf. Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach may have to wait a few weeks before getting a chance to earn his first Bok cap, as Meyer will no doubt have Francois Hougaard as cover for Pienaar on the bench. Steyn’s cover will either come in the form of Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie or young gun Handre Pollard.


No Sharks connection here as Western Province centres dominate the pecking order. Given that Jean de Villiers backed his own fitness last week, he will lead the Boks from inside centre. Damian de Allende is likely to make his debut in the somewhat unfamiliar 13 jersey as he covers for the unavailable Jacques Fourie. De Allende is rated highly by Meyer and should be settled next to his provincial team-mate and captain. Bulls centre Jan Serfontein will play off the bench.


Bryan Habana and Cornal Hendricks look set to roam the outside channels after solid performances in the June internationals. Sharks flyer Lwazi Mvovo may have to sit out altogether as Hougaard’s cover from the bench might see him slot in on the wing if there are any early injuries. Willie le Roux has been the talking point of South African rugby. He has proved his worth on the international stage and provides a potent attacking force from the back and in general play. Pat Lambie will most likely cover fullback and flyhalf from the bench. He will be anxious to get some game time after his recent return from a long injury lay-off.

Possible Bok starting XV (15-1)

Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers (c), Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Hougaard, Jan Serforntein, Pat Lambie.

Rugby Championship opening fixtures

• All Blacks vs Australia — ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Kick-off: 12.05 pm

• South Africa vs Argentina — Loftus Versveld, Pretoria. Kick-off: 5 pm.

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