Sharks named as Reds fuss over Cooper

2012-07-19 00:00

WHILE the Reds were yesterday still toying with the idea of appealing playmaker Quade Cooper’s suspension, Sharks coach John Plumtree was able to name a powerful combination for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarter-final playoff in Brisbane.

There were a couple of minor surprises to the starting line-up named by Plumtree, with Springbok flank Willem Alberts named at lock and SA U20 centre Paul Jordaan included ahead of Springbok Meyer Bosman in the midfield.

Entirely predictable, however, were the other changes to the team that started against the Cheetahs last Saturday. Springbok front-rowers Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira, over their ailments, return to beef up the pack, while Louis Ludik takes over from the injured Pat Lambie at fullback.

The Reds, perhaps in an attempt to keep the Sharks guessing, spent yesterday talking about a possible appeal against Cooper’s one-game ban for a dangerous tackle. But a Cooper tweet late last night (Australian time) appeared to have put that to bed:

“I won’t be appealing the 1 match suspension as I don’t want to be a distraction to the teams prep,” he said.

The Reds had still to confirm Cooper’s tweet and earlier in the day Queensland Rugby Union chairperson Rod McCall had said they “were seriously considering” appealing the sentence.

“By not receiving the formal judgment until 8 pm on Tuesday, after the decision was handed down on Monday evening, time is getting away from us in what was already a short preparation,” McCall said.

“Under the current Sanzar protocols, if we were to launch an appeal, we would lose at least a further day of preparation with [Reds coach] Ewen [McKenzie] and Quade who would both be required to fly to Sydney for another hearing.

“However, we are cognisant of the need to support our player if we feel he has been treated harshly and, in our opinion, we still strongly believe the tackle did not warrant suspension.’’

McCall said he would be speaking to Sanzar officials before making a final decision.

Cooper had earlier said he feared an extension of the ban that would keep him out of a semi-final against the Chiefs in Hamilton should the Reds beat the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.

Plumtree, without such distractions, was able to release his team a day earlier than expected.

He has selected bravely in midfield in naming a replacement for the unavailable inside centre Frans Steyn.

It was expected that Bosman would be preferred to limit change and add experience to the backline, but instead Plumtree has plumped for the more attacking option. Tim Whitehead has been switched from outside to inside centre with the young and exciting Jordaan selected at 13.

Plumtree has also opted against breaking up his successful backrow of the past few weeks (Ryan Kankowski, Marcell Coetzee and Keegan Daniel) by including the 120 kg Alberts at lock, while specialist second-rower Steven Sykes, back from injury, is named on the bench.

Alberts, who made an immediate impact off the bench against the Cheetahs, has played at lock for the Springboks and Plumtree is clearly looking to make use of all his resources.

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