Muir names Michalak to start for Sharks

2008-04-03 00:00

Frederic Michalak has been named by coach Dick Muir to start the Sharks’ Vodacom Super 14 match against the Hurricanes on Saturday (kick-off at 8.35 am South African time).

He will replace Frans Steyn, who played two matches in the pivot position and failed to ignite what is an exciting backline. However, he has been retained in the starting line-up by replacing Waylon Murray at outside centre.

With Steyn and Barritt together in the midfield, the Hurricanes will have to send the ball out wide if they hope to make line-breaks — both Sharks youngsters are outstanding defenders — something the Sharks have prided themselves on this season, and which has laid the foundation for their success.

In Hosea Gear and Ma’a Nonu, the Hurricanes boast two of the most dangerous attacking wings, with Gear big on pace and Nonu known for his powerful runs.

Ryan Kankowski has been passed fit after going over on his ankle in the Reds’ game and he will again form part of a formidable loose forward trio with Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel.

In Rodney So’oialo, Jerry Collins and Chris Masoe, the Hurricanes have one of the most physically intimidating back three in the competition, and the Sharks will have their work cut out for them containing these players.

In other changes to the Sharks team, Steven Sykes takes over from AJ Venter at lock, with the veteran named on the bench. BJ Botha, having achieved that outstanding milestone of 50 Super rugby caps last week returns to the starting line-up in place of Jannie du Plessis with Johann Muller captaining the side.

Epi Taione will again play off the bench, while Adrian Jacobs has recovered from a hamstring pull and returns in the number 22 jersey.

Both sides are under pressure and with the Hurricanes having lost last week to the Crusaders, the New Zealanders know that they can’t afford to slip a second time if they are to maintain their aspirations of a top four finish.

"I’d say it’s a must-win game for both teams, which will make it very interesting," Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper told NZPA.

Certainly the Sharks will look to start their tour with a win, knowing that tough games lie ahead.

Sharks team:

15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Francois Steyn, 12. Bradley Barritt, 11.

JP Pietersen, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Keegan

Daniel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller (capt), 4. Steven Sykes, 3. BJ Botha, 2.

Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. AJ

Venter, 20. Epi Taione, 21. Rory Kockott, 22. Adrian Jacobs

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