Sharks to name team today

2011-06-16 00:00

THE Sharks and the Bulls will both have their heavies back for what promises to be the most bruising of Super Rugby deciders at Loftus on Saturday evening.

The Bulls named their side yesterday and have recalled veteran Springbok lock Bakkies Botha while scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, also returning from injury and after a break of a month, is named to be on the bench.

Botha will play his 100th Super Rugby game on Saturday and he takes over from Danie Rossouw, in the second row.

The in-form Rossouw was expected to move to flank in place of Dewald Potgieter, but he joins Du Preez on the bench.

Francois Hougaard, named man-of-the-match at Newlands when the Bulls beat the Stormers at the weekend, retains his place at scrumhalf.

In the final change to the starting line-up, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is again rotated with Gary Botha.

The Bulls were given a scare yesterday when Hougaard went down with a leg injury.

“He took a knock to the ankle, but it doesn’t look serious,” coach Frans Ludeke said after the session.

“He should be ready for Saturday. Fourie [Du Preez] will come back slowly. There is no sense in rushing him,” he added.

The Sharks will only name their team today and there will certainly be changes to the pack, which struggled against the Lions last Saturday.

Big backrowers Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel are back and coach John Plumtree may start with both for what is expected to be a fierce opening quarter.

This could result in number eight Ryan Kankwoski dropping down to the bench, leaving Plumtree fielding a backrow of Alberts, Deysel and Keegan Daniel.

Another bruiser, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, is certain to start and John Smit will either play off the bench or switch to loosehead.

Plumtree may also have to start with lock pairing Alistair Hargreaves and Anton Mostert, who finished the game at Ellis Park.

Sharks team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde was confident at the start of the week that Steve Sykes would be over his bruised knee which forced him to leave the field at half-time against the Lions.

But assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards told The Witness yesterday that the injury was still bothering Sykes and a final decision on him, and tighthead Jannie du Plessis, would be taken before the team announcement today.

Plumtree is unlikely to tamper with the backline and centre Adi Jacobs, who as been an effective impact player this season, and is again likely to be used in that role with Stefan Terblanche.

Reece-Edwards said that the coaches were “hugely frustrated” by the Sharks and their tendency to play most of their rugby in the second half.

“Yeah, we are tearing our hair out. We have shown in short periods throughout the competition that we can compete with any team.

“But we just can’t afford to leave it to the second half before we start playing. This is our final and we have to at least stay in contention and then win the race in the final quarter,” said Reece-Edwards.

Springbok number eight Pierre Spies, who has played in all 15 of the Bulls’ games and has shown some improvement in recent weeks after a slow start, told reporters that the Bulls were ready for the Sharks.

The Bulls have been in final mode for the last six games and their winning streak has brought back the smile to Pretoria.

“You definitely enjoy your rugby more when you win. So I have to admit that the past six weeks have been a lot more fun than that first part of the season when things just did not go our way,” said Spies.

“I believe we will produce a good performance on Saturday. The Sharks are worthy opponents and don’t give anything away, so we will definitely have to stamp our authority on the game,” he added.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm with Jonathan Kaplan as the referee.

Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (capt) Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling.

Replacements: Gary Botha, Rossouw de Klerk, Flip van der Merwe, Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez, Francois Brummer, Akona Ndungane.

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