Sharks ring the changes

2011-04-22 00:00

CAPTAIN John Smit is back at hooker for the Sharks, but his selection in the middle of the front-row has nothing to do with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers.

Smit will make his first start at hooker this season when the Sharks take on the Hurricanes at King’s Park tomorrow night and follows a shoulder injury to the in-form Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis.

Still, the news will be welcomed by De Villiers who has been anxious to see Smit back at hooker and travelled to Durban this week to meet with Sharks coach John Plumtree and discuss the management of his Bok captain.

Plumtree, rotating a number of players, has made six changes to the team which started against the Lions a fortnight ago. The Sharks had a bye last weekend.

Wing Lwazi Mvovo and flank Jacues Botes, after being used off the bench most of the season start in place of Odwa Ndungane and Keegan Daniel. First-choice flyhalf Pat Lambie, after being sidelined for the past month with a broken finger, returns for Jacques-Louis Potgieter while Ross Skeate takes over from Gerhard Mostert at lock. Smit switches from loosehead prop to hooker with Beast Mtawarira returning to the front-row.

Craig Burden is recalled to the replacement bench and provides back-up at hooker.

Sharks team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde told The Witness yesterday that Bismarck du Plessis will “definitely” be ready for the important Stormers’ clash in Cape Town next week.

“He suffered bruising of the shoulder AC joint against theLions and it is still a bit tender. Bismarck has played 80 minutes in all eight games this season so we don’t want to risk him at this stage. He’ll be fine by next week.”

Van der Linde said that lock Alistair Hargreaves also suffered a shoulder injury, but he sustained a hairline fracture.

“He has been out for a couple of weeks now and he is recovering well. We are hoping to have him back for the Stormers game, but he might have to wait another week when we play the Brumbies in Durban [May 7].”

New Zealand-born Plumtree, a former Wellington Hurricanes coach, said the Sharks will face unpredictable and dangerous opponents “who will use the width of the field”.

The Hurricanes team named late last night see All Black fullback Cory Jane return after missing the previous two weeks due to the birth of his third child. Neemia Tialata starts at tighthead with Michael Bent moving to the bench in the only other change.

Players not considered for selection due to injury include Karl Lowe (knee), Rodney So’oialo (lower back), Conrad Smith (broken nose) and Aaron Cruden (Achilles tendon).

Contests between these two sides have often been close but high-scoring affairs. The Hurricanes and the Sharks have both scored 43 tries against each other. The Hurricanes have an aggregate of 386 points while the Sharks have scored five more (391) against the Hurricanes.

The two teams have met 15 times, with the Hurricanes winning on six occasions and the Sharks eight times with one draw. The Sharks beat the Hurricanes 33-17 the last time they played in Durban (in 2009).

The match tomorrow kicks off at 5.05 pm and Australian Stuart Dickinson is the referee.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Hurricanes: 15. Cory Jane, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13. Jayden Hayward, 12. Ma’a Nonu 11 Hosea Gear, 10. Daniel Kirkpatrick, 9. Tyson Keats, 8. Victor Vito, 7. Serge Lilo, 6. Jack Lam, 5. James Broadhurst, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 3. Neemia Tialata, 2. Andrew Hore (c), 1. John Schwalgar.

Replacements: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Michael Bent, 18. Jason Eaton, 19. Faifili Levave, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Beauden Barrett, 22. Andre Taylor

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