What to do with all these returning players? wonders Plumtree

2010-07-29 00:00

SHARKS head coach John Plumtree has several awkward choices to make as players return from injury and international duty ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup outing against Free State in Bloemfontein.

Plumtree, not for the first time, has to decide what to do with Ruan Pienaar. The Springbok scrumhalf, who lacked his usual sharpness behind a beaten Springbok pack in Brisbane on Saturday, is one of the three Test players released to the Sharks.

Pienaar, after Brisbane, is again fighting for his Test place and he needs to convince Bok coach Peter de Villiers that he is indeed Fourie du Preez’s successor. His replacement at the Sharks, Charl McLeod, has shown encouraging form and Plumtree has to decide whether to make a temporary change by selecting Pienaar over the next fortnight or by playing him off the bench in place of Rory Kockott.

Plumtree could, of course, use Pienaar at flyhalf in place of Steve Meyer, but that will certainly not be in the best interests of the Springbok scrumhalf.

Plumtree’s other selection problem is at loose forward, where he has an embarrassment of talent as he tries to squeeze five into three. Bok number eight Ryan Kankowski, who played on the flank in Brisbane on Saturday, is back while Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel are returning from injury.

Keegan Daniel, who has been playing at number eight and has been the Sharks’ outstanding performer over the past fortnight, certainly does not deserve to be dropped and nor does flank Jacques Botes.

Plumtree could use all five, perhaps using Deysel and Botes off the bench, if he opts for five forwards and only two backs among the replacements.

Loosehead Beast Mtawarira, his passport problems behind him, is the third Bok to rejoin the Sharks and he is desperately short of game time, while Test tighthead Jannie du Plessis is also back from his calf injury.

The Free State Cheetahs will also be stronger this weekend with tighthead CJ van der Linde released by the Springboks and another former Test player, centre Meyer Bosman, again available after injury.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 3 pm.

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