Sharks name all-Springbok front row

2013-07-05 00:00

SPRINGBOK hooker Bismarck du Plessis will make his first Super Rugby start of the season when he turns out for the Sharks against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow night.

The inclusion of the combative Du Plessis for young Kyle Cooper is the only change to the team that started against the Auckland Blues in Durban at the weekend.

Co-coaches Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards, without any fresh injury concerns, were yesterday able to name the same squad of 22 players, with Cooper on the bench in a straight swop with Du Plessis.

Bismarck joins brother Jannie du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira in an all-Springbok front row.

Bashford and Reece-Edwards have kept faith with their captain and number eight Keegan Daniel, who has battled with his form through most of the campaign.

The injury to half-a-dozen outside backs has limited their options and Butch James has again been named at inside centre with Pat Lambie at flyhalf.

This does leave the Sharks short of backline pace, but Lambie and James are again expected to switch roles during Saturday night’s game.

The situation at outside threequarter should improve next week when both JP Pietersen and Meyer Bosman are expected to return from injury.

Jannie du Plessis said that the forward battle against the Bulls would be far more intense than it was last Saturday, when the Sharks’ pack, playing for discarded coach John Plumtree, bullied the Blues.

“All eight guys in the pack really wanted to do well against the Blues and I must commend all the forwards who bought into it.”

He said the Sharks would have their hands full at Loftus, but they knew what to expect.

“The Bulls play so well under pressure and that’s why they are second on the log.”

The Sharks went down to a late penalty (18-16) in the first round against the Bulls in Durban.

“Our focus will be to improve on our discipline, because we gave away a few silly penalties at King’s Park. The Bulls don’t really differ too much in their approach, but what they do bring is world-class forward play, world-class phase play and world-class accuracy. Just matching them physically won’t win you the game — you’ve got to be accurate as well.”

He said the challenge they faced this weekend was different from last Saturday.

“The Blues look to play more off turn-overs while you can expect a territory-based game from the Bulls. They will try to suffocate and strangle you.”

While most believe the Sharks’ Super Rugby cause is a lost one, Du Plessis hopes they can still make the play-offs by winning their last two games.

“What I’ve learnt is that this competition is not won in the first 10 weeks, but in the last five weeks.

“Some think we are out of it because of the disappointing results that we’ve had, and we have under­achieved. But there is still a flicker of hope and this is effectively a knock-out game.”

He said the Bulls would be desperate to have home ground advantage in the play-offs, while the Sharks were playing to survive in the competition.

The match kicks off at 7.15 pm on Saturday.

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Butch James, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (capt), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Jandre Marais, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Jaco van Tonder.

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