JP set to play for Sharks against WP

2008-06-17 00:00

WORLD Cup wing JP Pietersen has been released by the Springboks and will play for the Sharks in their Currie Cup opener against Western Province at King’s Park on Friday night.

Pietersen was drafted into the Bok squad in the build-up to the second Test against Wales, but Bok coach Peter de Villiers has now sent him back to the Sharks.

De Villiers ruffled feathers in Durban when he blamed Pietersen’s lack of form, and axing from the Bok starting line-up, on his poor conditioning with the Sharks.

Plumtree said yesterday that there were a number of reasons why Pietersen struggled on the end of a disjointed Sharks backline.

“He has played a lot of rugby without a break and our backs did not function as well as we expected.

“He’ll be disappointed not to be in the Bok squad, but he now has the opportunity to show his capabilities on Friday night.”

Plumtree said that he had one or two injury concerns ahead of the Currie Cup, with the damaged hand suffered by number eight Jean Deysel in the friendly against the Griffons on Friday night the most significant.

“The hand is quite swollen at the moment, but we will know more in a day or two.

“He has not been ruled out of the Province game yet.”

Plumtree confirmed that Bok lock Johann Muller would captain the Sharks with Brad Barritt, who will start the Currie Cup at flyhalf until the return of Frederic Michalak, his deputy.

The new Sharks coach said that AJ Venter, who has moved to Cape Town and will play against the Sharks on Friday, had taken “a lot of intellectual knowledge” with him.

“But that’s part and parcel of professional rugby. But things change, I am always changing and the stuff he’s taken to Province is old stuff.

“We’re looking at changing strategies and doing different things all the time.

“If it works, the game will speed up,” he added.

Plumtree confirmed that promising young prop Patric Cilliers, who returned for the Wildebeest in the Vodacom Cup recently, had suffered a setback and could be out for another four weeks.

“We won’t rush him. We’ll be sure to condition him properly so he is ready for the Super 14,” he said.

Plumtree indicated that he wanted to develop certain players for the Super 14 next year and the loss of a number of players to the Boks provided openings.

“But you have got to be careful with rotation and you won’t see wholesale changes.

“We want to play an entertaining style of rugby, but we also want players to improve in their decision-making and option-taking.

“That comes when encouraged to play with continuity.”

The Sharks coach said that the possibility of Bok captain John Smit returning to the Sharks was “looking positive.”

“We definitely don’t want to lose a guy like that to another province.

“Everyone knows what he brings to the team.”

Friday’s match kicks off at 7.00pm.

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