Sharks flanker to play 100th cap in Currie Cup semi

2011-10-20 00:00

FLANK Jacques Botes will be playing his 100th Currie Cup game for the Sharks in the semi-final against the Free State Cheetahs at King’s Park on Saturday.

Botes, who turns 31 next month, seems certain to be used off the bench on Saturday following the return from injury of backrower Ryan Kankowski.

And, in Bloemfontein yesterday, Free State coach Naka Drotske named his side for the semi-final and welcomed back from injury the 19-year-old, prodigiously talented flyhalf Johan Goosen who played a major role in the Sharks’ recent heavy defeat in Bloemfontein last month.

Botes has often been used as a replacement but he has become a prodigious try-scorer because of his mobility and high workrate, while he has also benefited by being at the tail-end of the Sharks’ driving maul from attacking lineouts.

This season Botes has scored eight tries in 134 Currie Cup games with outside back Stefan Terblanche second after crossing for four.

Coach John Plumtree paid warm tribute to Botes this week.

“From my side, as coach, he’s the ultimate team man because of his attitude to his fellow-players. Whether it’s off the bench, starting or not in the team at all, his attitude stays the same.

“He’s an outstanding professional and he’s been an outstanding role model for a lot of younger players in the team.”

Plumtree said he was delighted Botes would celebrate his 100th cap at home and in a semi-final.

“He’s been around the world a few times and there have been many sacrifices from him and his family over the years. I’m sure we’ll celebrate his achievement properly this weekend.”

Botes was born in Nelspruit and played 41 games for the Pumas before moving to Durban in 2005.

Botes said he has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Sharks. “I’ve had some good times at the Sharks over the last seven seasons and I’m very grateful to still be playing. There are still a few more games left in the tank.”

He said the highlights had been the Currie Cup finals (won by the Sharks in 2008 and 2010).

“You remember the odd game when you think that was a great team performance, but ultimately it’s about the trophies.”

Botes said he is looking forward to reaching his milestone against Fee State.

“They have a few key individuals when they get forward ball, they’re particularly dangerous.”

He said that the return from injury of flyhalf Johan Goosen would boost the Cheetahs.

“He took us to pieces in Bloem [in the last meeting between the Sharks and Free State] and we will have to keep an eye on him. But we also have to nullify their launch from scrum and lineouts. They are really playing well with ball in hand and off-load particularly well in the tackle,” said Botes.

The Sharks team will be named later today and Plumtree is waiting on the fitness of Jean Deysel, Lwazi Mvovo and Adi Jacobs.

The Sharks have a number of section options and his selection in midfield and at loose forward will be of particular interest.

Two of Terblanche, Marius Joubert, Adi Jacobs or even Pat Lambie could be selected at centre while the loose trio will be decided by the fitness of Deysel and whether he or Willem Alberts is selected as a lock partner for the in-form Ross Skeate.

Plumtree seems certain to start with all seven of RWC Springboks, Lambie (at centre or fullback), JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndunage, the Du Plessis brothers, Beast Mtawarira and Alberts.

Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie told reporters yesterday that flyhalf Goosen would be key to the team’s success in Durban. Goosen has kicked 30 from 31 attempts — a success rate of 97%, some from close to 60 metres — while his running game also bothered the Sharks last month.

“The Sharks’ Boks will definitely be a factor this weekend. I think they’ll start all of them instead of playing them off the bench like they did against the Lions,” said Fourie.

“We will need to mark and restrict the Sharks’ primary ball carriers, like Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Jean Deysel. Our forwards will have to front up and set the platform for the win. Loose forwards Lappies Labuschagne and Ashley Johnson will be important in that battle. We also have Boom Prinsloo back from his sevens duties.

“We’ve proved in previous Super Rugby and Currie Cup campaigns that we can beat the Sharks in Durban. Even with their Springboks,” said Fourie.

The Cheetahs have lost lock Francois Uys and wing Riaan Smit to injury while their only RWC Springbok, flank Heinrich Brüssow, is out with damaged ribs.


Hennie Danniller, Ryno Benjamin, Robert Ebersohn, Andries Strauss, Cameron Jacobs, Johan Goosen, Piet van Zyl, Boom Prinsloo, Ashley Johnson, Pieter Labuschagne, Izak van der Westhuizen, Philip van der Walt, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Marcel van der Merwe.

Replacements: Hercu Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Johan Wessels, Tewis de Bruyn, Sias Ebersohn, Nico Scheepers.

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