Smit, Carstens move to bench

2009-03-27 00:00

The merry-go-round of Springboks in the Sharks front row continued yesterday when captain and hooker John Smit and loosehead Deon Carstens were dropped out of the starting line-up for the Super 14 outing against the Brumbies at King’s Park tomorrow evening.

John Plumtree has brought back Bismarck du Plessis at hooker with Beast Mtawarira taking over from Carstens at prop in the only two changes to the starting line-up that beat the Western Force in Perth at the weekend. Smit and Carstens, in the rotational selections, will both be on the bench.

There is a new face on the reserve bench with the lively scrumhalf Charl McLeod, in excellent form for the Sharks XV in recent Vodacom Cup matches, chosen ahead of young Ross Cronje, who has been on the bench since the start of the Super 14 and has seen little game time.

Starting scrumhalf Rory Kockott is recovering from an ankle injury, and was yesterday passed fit, but with Ruan Pienaar out of the game with a knee ligament strain, McLeod does provide additional experience off the bench.

The Brumbies are in ninth spot after losing to the Lions last weekend, but they are only eight log points behind the Sharks and a win tomorrow will revive their challenge for a semi-final place.

They have also been boosted by the inclusion of Wallaby captain and centre Stirling Mortlock, who was injured against the Lions.

Mortlock suffered a cork — internal bleeding or a haematoma in the quadriceps muscles of the thigh, for those who don’t speak Australian —but was yesterday passed fit to play.

The Brumbies made two changes to their starting line-up with blindside flanker Mitchell Chapman and former Sharks wing and centre Clyde Rathbone selected.

Chapman will be making his first appearance this season after returning from off-season shoulder surgery and he replaces Peter Kimlin, who shifts to the bench.

Rathbone played three matches for the Natal side in 2002 before joining the Brumbies prior to the 2003 Super 12 season.

Gene Fairbanks and Alfi Mafi, who joined the Brumbies from the Waratahs this year, return to the match squad after injuries.

Coach Andy Friend said yesterday the return of the injured players, Chapman, Fairbanks and Mafi, was a huge boost for the depth of the squad.

“Mitch has been around Super 14 rugby for a long time and we don’t expect him to have any trouble in slotting straight into the starting line-up,” he said. “He gives us a genuine option in the lineout and helps give some bulk to the pack against what is a very tough and physical Sharks side.”

Friend says his side will need to improve on their performance against the Lions last weekend to beat the Sharks.

“We created plenty of opportunities against the Lions, but our problem was in execution and converting those opportunities into points,” he said.

Friend has a number of players in his starting XV nursing minor injuries and yesterday named an additional reserve as cover.

Kick-of is at 5 pm tomorrow.

Sharks: 15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Adrian Jacobs, 12. Riaan Swanepoel, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Francois Steyn, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Keegan Daniel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller (capt), 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Reserves: 16. John Smit, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Monty Dumond, 22. Luzuko Vulindlu

Brumbies: 15. Mark Gerrard, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Stirling Mortlock, 12. Tyrone Smith, 11. Clyde Rathbone, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Joshua Holmes, 8. Julian Salvi, 7. George Smith (capt), 6. Mitchell Chapman, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Ben Hand, 3. Guy Shepherdson, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander

Reserves: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Salesi Maíafu, 18. Shawn Mackay, 19. Peter Kimlin, 20. Patrick Phibbs, 21. Gene Fairbanks, 22. Alfi Mafi, 23. Matt Toomua.

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