Sharks skipper John Smit on the bench for Stormers derby … much to Snor’s displeasure

2011-04-01 00:00

SHARKS and Springbok captain John Smit has been dropped to the bench for tomorrow’s crucial Super Rugby derby against the log-leading Stormers — and national coach Peter de Villiers will not be pleased.

Sharks head coach John Plumtree named his squad late yesterday and, with flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter fit to play, there are no real surprises.

There are two changes, though, with Bok wing JP Pietersen, on the bench against the Crusaders in London last Sunday, starting in place of Lwazi Mvovo, while Beast Mtawarira takes over from Smit at loosehead prop.

Smit, and indeed the whole Sharks scrum, struggled in the first half against the Crusaders and it was expected that the Springbok captain would make way for Mtawarira, who had a storming final quarter.

However, the interference of Springbok coach De Villiers this week has now clouded the issue.

De Villiers said he was unhappy that Smit, the national captain, was not being used by the Sharks in the hooking role and this was making his job as Bok coach more difficult.

Quite how De Villiers expects Plumtree to drop the combative Bismarck du Plessis, the outstanding hooker in Super Rugby, is less clear.

Smit has played all three positions in the front-row this season, but De Villiers feels he should only be playing hooker.

“John Smit is being unfairly judged at the moment,” De Villiers said.

“In 2008, we didn’t have any tightheads and I asked him to play there. He had to put on a lot of weight. Then Jannie du Plessis and BJ Botha came through, so I asked him to move back to hooker.

“In the wake of that, he has lost a lot of weight. And at the moment, he’s playing in a position where you need more weight. For me to judge him on how he’s playing now would be unfair to the player.”

He said he had not yet spoken to the Sharks about his concerns, but would do so in the next week or two if Smit continues to be ignored.

“I must still meet with Sharks coach John Plumtree. I want Smit to play hooker.”

Smit’s time at hooker will surely come in the weeks and months ahead.

Plumtree cannot expect Bismarck du Plessis to play in all 16 round robin Super Rugby games.

The situation should resolve itself in time and when players are rotated during the long competition. Certainly it does not need De Villiers to interfere in selection in March when the action will continue into July.

The good news for De Villiers is that Smit will be covering hooker (and loosehead prop) off the bench tomorrow.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm tomorrow with Mark Lawrence the referee.

SHARKS TEAM

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche (captain), 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9. Charl McLeod,8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. John Smit, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Gerhard Mostert, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Conrad Hoffmann, 21. Adrian Jacobs, 22. Lwazi Mvovo.

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