Sharks make five changes

2011-06-03 00:00

AN injury, a suspension and player rotation has resulted in Sharks coach John Plumtree making five changes to his starting line-up for tomorrow evening’s Super rugby derby against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The match squad of 22, on paper anyway, is stronger than the one which beat the Waratahs in Durban last weekend, with a couple of Springboks and Frenchman Frederic Michalak back with the Sharks.

The backrow has been re-jigged. Springbok Ryan Kankowski, after a break of five weeks with a broken cheekbone, makes his timely return at number eight with Keegan Daniel switching back to flank and dislodging Jacques Botes.

Blindside flank Jean Deysel, suspended for a fortnight, is replaced by Willem Alberts, who was rested last week.

In a fourth change to the pack, and one which adds weight to the pack, Plumtree has rested tall lock Alistair Hargreaves and promoted the 121-kg Gerhard Mostert off the bench.

The only change among the backs is at scrumhalf, where first-choice scrumhalf Charl McLeod takes over from the injured Conrad Hoffman, who left the field with an elbow injury after 15 minutes of action against the Waratahs.

Hoffman is out for the rest of the competition and the Sharks’ rushed signing this week, the French halfback Michalak, will provide cover for McLeod in Bloemfontein.

Michalak has played most of his rugby at flyhalf in recent times, but the Sharks also have Jacques-Louis Potgieter on the bench.

Another making his return is centre Adi Jacobs, who injured an ankle a fortnight back against the Bulls, but passed a fitness test yesterday and he replaces Riaan Swanepoel on the bench.

Plumtree has retained the front-row, which had some awkward moments against the strong Waratahs scrum, and captain John Smit again starts ahead of Beast Mtawarira at loosehead.

The one minor surprise is the omission of lock Hargreaves after the Sharks lineout had one of its better days against the Waratahs. Plumtree is obviously looking to the physically imposing Mostert to add a hard edge to the Sharks pack for what promises to be a bruising contest.

Hargreaves’ fellow-lock against the Waratahs was Steven Sykes, who was playing in his 50th Super Rugby game for the Sharks.

He told the Sharks website he had been pleased with the win over the Waratahs and the lineout as they took all their own ball.

Sykes said the Sharks hoped to target the Cheetahs’ lineout, which has battled in recent weeks.

“We hope to put pressure on them. Our own lineout has really improved during the course of the tournament.”

He said the squad was in good physical shape after 13 games in 15 weeks.

“Plum and the coaching staff have done very well managing the players in one of the toughest rugby tournaments in the world. There will be injuries, but I have been fortunate just to have the odd niggle here or there.

“But we don’t have major concerns and we’re looking forward to a nice challenge up in Bloem,” said Sykes.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm and South African Mark Lawrence will referee the game.



15. Louis Ludik, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Gerhard Mostert, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Eugene van Staden, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. John Smit (c).

Replacements: 16. Tendai Mtawarira, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Frederic Michalak, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Adrian Jacobs

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