Odds favour battle-hardened Sharks in Currie Cup opener against WP

2008-06-19 00:00

THE Sharks, with a more settled, battle-hardened outfit and playing at home, would expect to open their Currie Cup challenge with a victory over Western Province at King’s Park tonight.

Both sides have been hit by Springbok demands, but with national coach Peter de Villiers favouring Western Province in his squad selections, the Sharks have not been as badly disrupted. Province have 10 players in the 22-man Bok squad named yesterday. Sharks have six.

Sharks’ new head coach, New Zealander John Plumtree, agreed that he had the more settled team.

“Apart from having to play two players out of position — centre Brad Barritt is at flyhalf and lock Steven Sykes will play on the flank — we have players who have been together all season,” he said yesterday. “It will be tough, but I’m delighted that the Currie Cup competition is starting with a top game.”

The Sharks have only one player, young lock Alistair Hargreaves, who has not seen action in the Super 14.

But the going will be testing. Former Sharks utility forward and captain AJ Venter will be desperate to prove a point against his old team-mates. He has been telling the Province forwards all week that they have to take the Sharks on at the breakdowns and win the collisions to stay in the contest.

Coach Alister Coetzee has attempted to beef up his pack with two useful locks in new captain Ross Skeate and Adriaan Fondse. The back row is Venter at No. 8, Pieter Myburgh and Francois Louw.

Plumtree said they would not concern themselves with Venter — “but I think AJ will be determined to have his best game of the season at King’s Park against us.”

Sharks captain Johann Muller agreed: “But we won’t make the mistake of singling him out. We see him simply as another good player in a good WP team.”

Muller told News24 that the Super 14 had been a disappointment.

“We had so much potential, but we never performed as well as we should have. We have spoken about it and it is extremely important to start well against WP. Winning at home is the golden rule. It’s a long, demanding competition and you place yourself under unnecessary pressure if you lose your home games.”

Province will look to the hefty boot of Willem de Waal to secure them field position and kick the points in a tight game, as he did so often for Free State against the Sharks.

The Sharks, in turn, are banking on their tight five gaining control to allow the loose forwards and backs to build on their momentum. This would also allow the confrontational Rory Kockott, curiously overlooked by De Villiers, to pressure and disrupt WP debutant Alistair Siegelaar at the base of the scrum.

There will one significant change to the Sharks’ game plan. Super 14 coach Dick Muir, with a talented bench, used his impact players with telling effect in the second half. Plumtree has far less experience among his replacements. His run-on team will be expected to both start the job and finish it.


Sharks: Stefan Terblanche, JP Pietersen, Waylon Murray, Andries Strauss, Henno Mentz, Brad Barritt, Rory Kockott, Jaques Botes, Steven Sykes, Keegan Daniel, Allister Hargreaves, Johann Muller (captain), Jannie du Plessis, Craig Burden, Deon Carstens.

Reserves: Skipper Badenhorst, Robbie Harris, Albert van den Berg, Skolihwe Ndlovu, Scott Mathie, Lwazi Mvovo, Andrew Borgen.

Western Province: Gio Aplon, Wylie Human, Dylan des Fountain, PJ Vermeulen, Joe Pietersen, Willem de Waal, Alistair Siegelaar, AJ Venter, Francois Louw, Pieter Myburgh, Ross Skeate (captain), Adriaan Fondse, Brok Harris, Deon Fourie, Schalk Ferreira.

Reserves: Simon Westraadt, Wikus Blaauw, Ruaan du Preez, Francois van der Merwe, Justin Melck, Paul Delport, Zhahier Ryland.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm. Coverage on SuperSport on CSN and SS1.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.