Plumtree names squad for Nelspruit

2013-02-14 00:00

COACH John Plumtree has named close to his strongest team for tomorrow night’s second and final pre-season friendly, against the Pumas in Nelspruit.

The Springboks — those in good working order anyway — are back with the Sharks just a week ahead of their opening Super Rugby outing against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 23.

Plumtree is still half-a-dozen players short of what he would consider his strongest 22-man squad. Hooker Bismarck du Plessis, backrower Keegan Daniel and centre Tim Whitehead have been sidelined until at least April.

Bok flank Willem Alberts (shoulder) and flyhalf Butch James (knee) should be playing again by the end of this month and two more backrowers, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski, could still play against the Cheetahs.

Kankowski, back from Japan where, apparently, gym work was not on the daily agenda, is on a crash course, pumping iron in the heat, while Coetzee took a bump on the hip against the Leopards at Woodburn Stadium on Friday night.

As a result, Tera Mtembu, Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes will again start in the backrow.

“It’s not my ideal loose trio combination because the three are not big ball-winners,” said Plumtree. “You need backrow forwards who can also win ball [at the breakdown] and jump in the lineout.

“But the three, particularly Tera, did play well last Friday,” he added.

Craig Burden, who carried tackle bags for the Springboks all over the world last year, is at hooker, packing down with Test props Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis in the front-row.

Du Plessis, playing his first game, is under pressure to prove his match fitness.

“Wiehahn Herbst is really fit and he has a high work rate,” said Plumtree.

Anton Bresler will lock the scrum with recent signing Franco van der Merwe, with the talented youngster Pieter-Steph du Toit dropping to the bench.

“There is some competition between the three at lock and also between the loose forwards, and we want that to carry on all season.”

Paul Jordaan, predictably, takes over from the injured Whitehead at outside centre, partnering new captain Frans Steyn in the midfield, while Cobus Reinach will start at scrumhalf in place of Charl McLeod.

Two of last year’s consistently impressive performers, wing JP Pietersen and fullback Louis Ludik, also start tomorrow.

Plumtree said the trip to Nelspruit would also be used as a team-building exercise.

“We are staying up there for a day or two afterwards and we’ll pop into Kruger. That will be good, but we need a positive outing against the Pumas so we can enjoy those couple of days.

“We also have to make sure it doesn’t distract us from our main task and the players need to set a standard in terms of attitude.

“We are also playing at altitude, which will help before we go to Bloemfontein.”


15. Louis Ludik 14. JP Pietersen 13. Paul Jordaan 12. Frans Steyn (captain) 11. Lwazi Mvovo 10. Patrick Lambie 9. Cobus Reinach 8. Tera Mtembu 7. Jean Deysel 6. Jacques Botes 5. Franco van der Merwe 4. Anton Bresler 3. Jannie du Plessis 2. Craig Burden 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper 17. Allan Dell 18. Wiehahn Herbst 19. Pieter-Steph du Toit 20. Francois Kleinhans 21. Charl McLeod 22. Meyer Bosman 23. Odwa Ndungane 24. Riaan Viljoen.

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