Hernandez at flyhalf among four changes in Sharks side for WP clash

2009-08-28 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has made four changes and included Argentinian Juan Martin Hernandez at flyhalf for tomorrow’s top-of-the-log Currie Cup game against Western Province at King’s Park.

Riaan Swanepoel and Andries Strauss, his regular and successful midfield pairing, are over their injuries and they again pair up at centre, while Springbok Waylon Murray, eased back into action after an extended injury break, returns to the bench.

Hernandez, who is over his badly bruised ankle, is back at flyhalf to make his Durban debut. He partners Rory Kockott, another player who is returning from injury, at halfback.

The halves who performed commendably against Griquas last weekend, Monty Dumond and Charl McLeod, drop to the bench.

In the only change to the pack, Skipper Badenhorst and Craig Burden are again rotated at hooker. Burden’s explosive running around the breakdowns will be missed, but Badenhorst will bring greater accuracy to the lineout throwing.

Bok prop Deon Carstens is still nursing a light injury and is again bracketed with Patric Cilliers at loosehead.

“Deon had a swelling on the knee and the fluid has been drained,” Plumtree said last night. “If it does not flare up again he will start with Pat (Cilliers) on the bench.”

Plumtree said Hernandez has practised well all week, but he needs time to settle in to the Sharks style of play.

Prop Wiehahn Herbst, another victim of the over-zealous citing officer who stalks King’s Park, was cleared of dangerous play against Griquas at a midweek disciplinary hearing, and he will be at tighthead.

Province captain Luke Watson said yesterday that victory in the next three games — against the Sharks, Bulls (at Newlands) and Cheetahs in Bloemfontein — should guarantee his side a semi-final place for the first time since 2006.

“On paper we’re the underdogs in that the Sharks are the log leaders and they’re playing in Durban,” Watson told the Cape Town media. “It’s an incredible challenge, but we’ve taken a lot of confidence from our previous performances.

“The Sharks have changed their approach slightly. They are playing an expansive and exciting game; they have some great runners capable of breaking through defences.

“We are definitely going to look to disrupt them at the set pieces, but our defence will have to be sharp,” Watson said.

The match kicks off at 3 pm tomorrow and will be handled by Jonathan Kaplan. The Tri-Nations Test in Perth will be screened on the Pled Mobile Screen on the outside field (KP6) from noon.

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