White puts faith in Etienne

2014-05-15 00:00

ROOKIE lock Etienne Oosthui­zen will make only his second start for the Sharks as director of rugby Jake White made three changes for their tough Super Rugby encounter against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, whose only other appearance in the starting XV was in the 34-18 loss to the Highlanders last month, takes over from Willem Alberts in the second row, with the versatile Springbok loose forward shifting to his more favoured position at number eight.

There is also another change amongst the loose trio with Tera Mtembu winning his first start of the campaign as Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski drop to the bench.

The only other change to the run-on team is at full-back, where SP Marais is brought back in favour of Lwazi Mvovo.

Marais will be starting for the first time since week five when he last wore the number 15 against the Bulls.

Mvovo, who is retained but shifts to the wing as Odwa Ndungane is sacrificed, has since been converted to fullback and impressed considering it had been the first time he had taken up the position at this level.

Frans Steyn, meanwhile, retained his place at flyhalf despite his off colour showing in the number 10 jersey during the 16-9 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra last weekend.

However, White has kept faith with his Springbok back, who has by far been one of the stand-out backs for the top-of-the-table Durbanites in 2014.

The Sharks boss admitted he had little choice in a position that had been tricky to fill since a season-ending injury to Patrick Lambie.

“One of the things we had to do was back Pat at 10, but that hasn’t worked out with injury,” White said. “We’ve had Tim Swiel and Fred Zeilinga and Frans Steyn playing there.

“We’ve played four 10s already in 11 games and that doesn’t help with the rhythm of your attack nor for cohesion in the backline at all. We just have to get through and kick on.”

Swiel (20) has at least made the substitutes’ bench for the first time on tour after Zeilinga had sat there during the 22-16 win over the Rebels in the opening game, even though he was not used.

The Sharks have acknowledged that their attack needed to improve in the coming weeks if they wanted to maintain their number one position on the log.

White himself said, “We know we have to change our game, we’re the first to admit it.

“I’ve only been with this team for six months.

“There’s a massive difference to where we are in our progression to where the Brumbies are.

“To put it in perspective, they were finalists last year, this is the third year of their development and we’ve been together for six months.”

Their clash against the seven-time champions at the AMI Stadium is the first of two in New Zealand, with a clash against the Blues in Auckland to follow.

Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will both win their 100th caps in Christchurch, completing the front row of centurions — captain Bismarck du Plessis reached his ton last year.

“I’m immensely proud to be playing my 100th game,” Jannie said. “Accumulating these caps means having shared my life with very good rugby players and this achievement is probably one of the things I am proudest of in my rugby career.”

Sharks: SP Marais, JP Pietersen, S’bura Sithole, Paul Jordaan, Lwazi Mvovo, Frans Steyn, Cobus Reinach, Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel, Tera Mtembu, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Ryan Kankowski, Keegan Daniel, Charl McLeod, Tim Swiel, Heimar Williams.

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