Sharks make six changes

2011-05-27 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has made significant changes, six in all, and rested scrumhalf Charl McLeod and big flank Willem Alberts for tomorrow evening’s Super Rugby clash against the Waratahs at King’s Park.

Three of the changes have been forced on Plumtree by the injuries to wing Odwa Ndungane, centre Adi Jacobs and prop Jannie du Plessis, while John Smit, over his calf strain, returns to lead the side from loosehead.

But the poor form shown by the Sharks in losing to the Bulls last Saturday has also resulted in him resting McLeod and Alberts.

The two have started and been heavily involved physically in 12 successive games in 14 weeks this season and both clearly need a break. Both appear to have lost their cutting edge and the form that brought them Springbok recognition late last year.

The 23-year-old Conrad Hoffman will make his first start for the Sharks since moving from Cape Town to Durban, and Plumtree is looking to the former Western Province scrumhalf to provide an attacking spark from around the fringes.

Plumtree said Alberts played consistently well for most of this season.

“He’s had a great run this year, but in recent weeks he’s been carrying a bit of an injury, his confidence has dipped and he has lost some of his old form.

“We saw an inkling of that against the Brumbies, and it was confirmed against the Bulls. So now it is all about helping Willem rediscover the form he showed a short time ago. And he will do that,” the coach added firmly.

Plumtree’s loose forward options are limited by the injury to Ryan Kankowski, but fortunately flank Keegan Daniel returned from suspension this week and his selection at number eight certainly boosts the Sharks pack and will lift their work-rate.

Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo, who has spent most of the year kicking his heels on the bench, is a capable replacement for Ndungane, while Meyer Bosman returns after starting on the bench against the Bulls last week and takes over from Jacobs (sore ankle) at inside-centre.

Eugene van Staden is a ready-made replacement for Jannie du Plessis at tighthead and the return of Smit has resulted in loosehead Beast Mtawarira dropping to the bench.

With Smit able to cover hooker, another prop in Wiehahn Herbst joins the bench in place of Craig Burden.

Flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter, centre Riaan Swanepoel and scrumhalf McLeod provide backline cover.

The Waratahs, with Wallaby flyhalf Berrick Barnes cleared to play after taking a blow to the head against the Lions, have made just one change to their starting line-up. Lock Sitaleki Timani returns from injury and Pat O’Connor provides back-up off the bench.

The Waratahs have a dozen Wallaby Test caps in their line-up and one All Black in wing Soseni Anesi. Indeed, their entire back division has seen Test action, which has added to the frustration of their supporters who would like to see them scoring more tries.

There will be particular interest in the form of young and fiercely competitive Waratahs flank Chris Alcock, who has taken over from injured captain Phil Waugh and is already being compared to the Wallaby loose forward George Smith.

Alcock is originally from Durban and still holds a South African passport, but he has lived in Australia for the past decade.

Nicknamed “Crazy” because of his fearless approach to the game, Alcock made just his second start for the Waratahs against the Lions last weekend and made a massive impact to be named man of the match.

“I thought I played well, but I didn’t realise I was in contention for man of the match,” Alcock said of the game. “I was surprisingly relaxed leading into the game, which really helped me and I was able to play my own style of rugby.”

Alcock, who was not even in the Waratahs squad at the start of the season, said he is looking forward to playing in the city of his birth tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a great experience. I’ve still got a lot of family over here and to play in front of the loud Durban crowd is very exciting.”

He is expecting a hostile reception from the Sharks.

“They are a very physical team. They are going to be aggressive and they will attack us at every opportunity.”

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm and Jonathan Kaplan is the referee.

 

TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 John Smit (c).

Replacements: 16 Beast Mtawarira, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Riaan Swanepoel.

 

Waratahs: Kurtley Beale, Lachie Turner, Ryan Cross, Tom Carter, Soseni Anesi, Berrick Barnes, Luke Burgess, Ben Mowen, Chris Alcock, Dave Dennis, Sitaleki Timani, Dean Mumm (c), Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.

Replacements: John Ulugia, Al Baxter, Pat O’Connor, Hugh Perrett, Brendan McKibbin, Daniel Halangahu, Atieli Pakalani.

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