Sharks ready for the hunt

2014-07-25 00:00

Jake White yesterday named the 15 men who will be carrying the hopes of a nation as the Sharks represent South Africa in the Super Rugby semi-finals tomorrow when they take on the mighty Crusaders.

LLOYD BURNARD takes a closer look at White’s team.

15. SP MARAIS

Only the Brumbies’ Jesse Mogg has caught more kicks than the Sharks fullback this season. Marais has been solid enough for White, warranting regular selection, and he will need to give an error-free display tomorrow. It will be all about the basics for the former EP Kings backliner: take your high balls, find touch comfortably, eliminate errors and think twice before attempting any drop goals from distance.

14. JP PIETERSEN

Moving back to the right wing to accommodate Pat Lambie at flyhalf, Pietersen’s unquestioned ability on both defence and attack will be key for the Sharks to succeed. It has been a quiet season by Pietersen’s standards so far, with just one try to his name, but we all know that he possesses the required spark to change a game. If ever the Sharks needed him to shift up a gear, it is now.

13. PAUL JORDAAN

One of the finds of the Sharks season, Jordaan has been a strong runner at 12 with an eye for a gap. He has three tries to his name, but his strength in the tackle on both attack and defence has made him a far more valuable player than those stats suggest. He shifts across to 13 tomorrow to make room for Lambie. Jordaan will be itching to take the Sharks forward after being sidelined following an injury.

12. FRANS STEYN

Steyn has rescued White with some inspired performances at 10 in the absence of Lambie. He should have no problem moving back to inside centre tomorrow. His kicking from hand and at goal has been impressive, and he was immense in this regard in the Sharks’ play-off win over the Highlanders on Saturday. He will be expected to do a lot of kicking despite Lambie’s return.

11. LWAZI MVOVO

With pace aplenty, Mvovo can hurt any side in world rugby if given the space. The Springbok wing took a knock against the Highlanders that saw him replaced, but has recovered and is ready to go tomorrow. His opportunities are likely to be limited against what is a world-class side, so he will have to make the most of them when they come around.

1 0. PATRICK LAMBIE

Lambie’s inclusion is a big call given that he has 10 minutes of rugby to his name over the last four and a bit months. But this shows the faith White has in his number one flyhalf, who brings a more dynamic attacking capability to the backline. His road back to the Springboks starts tomorrow, and he can make a strong statement by guiding Sharks to the Super Rugby final.

9. COBUS REINACH

Always lively, Reinach has been a shining light for the Sharks this season scoring six tries along the way. His quick distribution and accurate box kicking have made him a key figure for White. Up against the accomplished Andy Ellis, Reinach will need to mirror the form he has shown all season.

8. RYAN KANKOWSKI

Quick for a man of his height with a skilful pair of hands, Kankowski can be dangerous with ball in hand. But it is his work in the lineout that has made him stand out this season, and he has repaid the faith that White has showed in him this season after his career in Durban appeared to be over.

7. JEAN DEYSEL

Deysel came off the bench against the Highlanders to replace the injured Bresler and made a massive impact. He brings a physicality to the pack that few players can match. The Sharks will look to him for big hits, strong ball carries and turnovers as they look to dominate at the breakdown.

6. MARCELL COETZEE

Coetzee’s work at the breakdown against the legendary Richie McCaw will be crucial for the Sharks tomorrow. The All Black captain has seen it all and knows what it takes to win ugly. Combating that will be a major test of Coetzee’s credentials as a world class fetcher.

5. STEPHAN LEWIES

Nobody this season has won more lineouts in Super Rugby than Lewies — something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who awarded the 22-year-old a Bok debut against Scotland. The lock has been growing in stature with each game he plays.

4. WILLEM ALBERTS

Alberts plays at lock, not a favoured position, but one in which he is equally capable of getting in the faces of the Crusaders forwards. His big hits and strong running will have to be a common feature for the Sharks if they are to succeed.

3. JANNIE DU PLESSIS

Jannie’s world-class scrummaging has never been questioned, but he has given away far too many penalties and recieved far too many yellow cards this season. In knockout rugby discipline is crucial, and the Sharks do not need to give away three-point opportunities unnecessarily.

2. BISMARCK DU PLESSIS

Bismarck has turned into a natural leader and he has led by example with inspired performances this campaign. This was seen in a man-of-the-match display in the win over the Highlanders, and White will expect more of the same tomorrow. Lineout delivery will be key for Bismarck.

1. THOMAS DU TOIT

Du Toit would be forgiven for taking to the field tomorrow with stars still in his eyes. It has been a crazy few weeks for the 19-year-old, but he will have to put all of that behind him and repeat the scrumming performance that he gave in the play-off victory over the Highlanders to boost the Sharks.

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