Sharks show strength

2014-02-06 00:00

THE Sharks will mean business when they take on the Lions in their final Super Rugby warm-up game at Ellis Park tomorrow evening.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, Sharks coach Jake White said the team he picked for the Lions game would be as close as possible to the one that would run out against the Bulls in the season opener at Kings Park next week.

It seemed that way when the squad to take on the might of the Lions were announced yesterday.

With White keen to look at how combinations would gel in the warm-up game, he picked Tera Mthembu at number eight ahead of seasoned campaigner Ryan Kankowski, who has just returned from Japan, and former skipper Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts, all Springboks.

Marcell Coetzee and vice captain Jean Deysel complete the back three, with Kankowski and Jacques Botes expected to play a part in the later stages off the bench.

White also picked an all-Springbok front row in Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and the brothers Du Plessis in captain Bismarck and Jannie.

It was still too early to tell how the younger Du Plessis had been adapting to his new role within the Sharks squad, having taken over the captaincy from Daniel. But, with CEO John Smit just a few floors above him, White felt he had the perfect role model in the World Cup winning skipper.

“It’s still early days, but he’s still learning. By his own admission, he knows that all of a sudden he’s been lumbered with the captaincy badge and he knows that with that comes a massive amount of responsibility,” White told The Witness.

“But, I’ve said it many times, that he’s got a great mentor in John Smit who is obviously two floors above him, and he spends a bit of time with John, talking to John about decisions that he’s made and game management decisions. So I’m sure as the season develops, he’ll get better and better.

“But I’m happy that Bismarck definitely has the support of every player in the group,” he said.

The recently married Pat Lambie also returns at flyhalf, and will have Frans Steyn on his outside at inside centre, a partnership White hopes will reap the team rewards as the season gathers speed.

While the Panasonic Wild Knights do well in Japan’s Top League, J.P. Pietersen will only be back sometime in March, which means S.P. Marais, who had a good Super Rugby season for the Southern Kings and an equally impressive

Currie Cup for the Sharks, can cement his place as the first-choice fullback in the side.

Sharks

15. S.P. Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Pat Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Tera Mtembu, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Stephan Lewies, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Ryan Kankowski, 22. Chad McLeod, 23. Fred Zeilinga, 24. Heimar Williams, S’bura Sithole, 26. Jaco van Tonder.

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