Plumtree makes four changes to starting line-up for Western Province clash

2012-09-14 00:00

COACH John Plumtree has not taken the weekend defeat by Griquas lightly and has made four changes to his starting line-up for tomorrow night’s Currie Cup outing against Western Province at King’s Park.

The Sharks, Western Province and the Golden Lions are bracketed together at the top of the log and Plumtree is starting the second round of the competition with a slightly new look to the team.

Three players who started in Kimberley — wing S’bura Sithole, scrumhalf Charl McLeod and hooker Monde Hadebe — drop to the bench while centre Paul Jordaan has been ruled out by injury.

Risko Specman, making his debut on the wing, and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach are Currie Cup rookies, while veteran Pieter Dixon, in the twilight of his career, takes over at hooker.

Super Rugby centre Tim Whitehead, returning from an extended injury break, slips comfortably into the gap left by Jordaan at outside centre.

The Sharks will have their ranks further boosted next week when hooker Craig Burden and possibly wing Lwazi Mvovo, overlooked by coach Heyneke Meyer in the Springboks’ travels around the world, return home.

The talented lock/flank Pieter-Steph du Toit and hooker Kyle Cooper should also return from injury within the next fortnight.

“It would be good to get some reinforcements back,” said Plumtree. “But the boys are still keen and ready to go in spite of a few unfortunate injuries in some key areas.”

Number eight Keegan Daniel, as confirmed by Plumtree on Wednesday, takes over from Jean Deysel as captain.

The omission of McLeod, a tough and involved scrumhalf who started the Currie Cup strongly, will take most by surprise. He has, however, struggled over the past fortnight and Plumtree obviously believes he needs a break after many months of intense Super Rugby and Currie Cup action.

Free Stater Reinach is a lively and alert scrumhalf and he will be anxious to cement his place in the Sharks’ Super Rugby squad. He is the son of former Springbok wing and top South African track athlete Jaco who died in a motor accident in 1997 aged just 34.

Dixon, the former Maritzburg College hooker, played all his Currie Cup and Super 14 rugby for Western Province and the Stormers before moving to England and joining Bath.

The 34-year-old played in the last quarter in Kimberley and he has had a couple of weeks to settle after his brief retirement from the game. Certainly Hadebe has done little wrong since his promotion to the senior side, but Dixon does add experience to a young tight five.

In a change to the bench, loose forward Francois Kleinhans drops out — and returns to the Sharks U21 team — as Plumtree reverts to a 4:3 split among the replacements.

Lourens van der Merwe will referee tomorrow’s game, which kicks off at 7.10 pm. The Sharks U21 meet Border U21 in the main curtain-raiser with the Sharks U19 facing SWD Eagles U19 at 3 pm.

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