Big blow upfront for Sharks

2008-02-29 00:00

The Sharks suffered a setback last night when their inspirational Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis was withdrawn from the team for tomorrow evening's heavyweight Super 14 clash with the Bulls in Pretoria.

Du Plessis, suffering from a rib injury, was expected to be fit after avoiding contact all week but last night coach Dick Muir said it has been decide not to risk the robust hooker.

'It was touch and go but we have a physical hooker in Skipper Badenhorst (back from his knee injury) and he is a most capable replacement. Bismarck will be back for the Blues game in Durban next weekend.'

Muir was reluctant to start with the inexperienced Craig Burden - a retreaded wing - in Du Plessis' place. Burden, tough, energetic and an ideal impact player, will be on the bench.

Keegan Daniel and Jannie du Plessis, for contrasting reasons, are included in the starting line-up. The lively and alert Daniel replaces regular No 6 flank Jacques Botes - 'as part of our rotation,' said Muir - while the experience of Du Plessis will see him start at loosehead ahead of Tendai Mtawarira for what will be a torrid forward strugle.

The only change amongst the backs is at scrumhalf where Rory Kockott takes over from Ruan Pienaar, both as Fred Michalak's halfback partner and as number one goalkicker.

Stefan Terblanche and Adrian Jacobs are the backline reserves and Michalak, who started his career for France at scrumhalf, will cover for Kockott. Burly loose forward Jean Deysel is the extra forward on the bench.

The Loftus game will be veteran lock Johan Ackermann's final game for the Sharks before retiring (again) and moving to a new life in business in Cape Town ahead of his 38th birthday.

Coach Dick Muir has chosen a 5-2 bench with Adrian Jacobs and Stefan Terblanche the only two backs, while reserve last week, Keegan Daniel, gets a start at flank in place of Jacques Botes who earns a breather and will play off the bench, along with Jean Deysel.

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