Sharks set to play diluted Bulls in warm-up

2009-02-03 00:00

WHILE the Sharks have named their strongest available team for tonight’s friendly at King’s Park, the Bulls will arrive with a diluted combination and all their leading players packed away in cotton wool.

John Plumtree, the head Sharks coach, is understandably miffed that his planned build-up to the Super 14 season has been spiked, first by the Cheetahs — they opted for a canned hunt against Griquas instead — and now the Bulls, who are travelling to Durban with their reserve team.

Adding to the Sharks’ problems are the injuries to a string of his front-row forwards (Beast Mtawarira, Deon Carstens and the brothers Du Plessis, Bismarck and Jannie).

He is confident that all will be fit for the Stormers game, but conceded yesterday that a lack of match practice is a problem, particularly for the big men.

Regarding the Bulls’ selection, Plumtree said he could not control what the opposition did.

“Frans Ludeke [the Bulls coach] informed me when the fixture was arranged that he couldn’t send a full strength side, but I would certainly have liked it if they were possibly stronger … ”

He said the injuries in the front row are a disappointment.

“The guys coming back are not far off, but none can take part now. When you’re preparing a rugby team you can’t hope you’re ready, you must know you are ready.”

He said that the Sharks are fortunate that Carstens and Jannie du Plessis had excellent preparation for the season before they were injured “so they’re in good nick”.

“Beast is a naturally great athlete and they will all be doing a fair amount of sharing game time against the Stormers. John Smit has done a lot of work and he’ll be ready for the Stormers game big time.”

Flanks Keegan Daniel, who has been ill, and Jacques Botes, returning from surgery, will play for 20 minutes each against the Bulls, the coach said.

The Sharks will field a close to full-strength backline with the only exception on the wing, where Luzuko Vulindlu is having a run ahead of Odwa Ndungane.

The Bulls have selected a young side with none of their Springboks. John Mametsa, Wayne Julies, Tiger Mangweni and JP Joubert are the most experienced of the playing group, while the only other players with Super 14 experience are Dean Greyling, Bandise Maku and Francois Hougaard.

The young Bulls, as Plumtree pointed out, have nothing to lose and will be determined to make an impression.

TEAMS: Sharks: Stefan Terblanche, Luzuko Vulindlu, Adi Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Skholiwe Ndlovu, Johann Muller (capt), Steven Sykes, John Smit, Craig Burden, Melusi ‘Burra’ Mthethwa. Reserves: Frik Venter, Dave Hawksworth, Alistair Hargreaves, Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes, Justin Downey, Ross Cronje, Riaan Swanepoel, Odwa Ndungane, Chris Jordaan.

Bulls: Tiger Mangweni; John Mametsa, Braam Gerber, Wayne Julies, Rocco Jansen; Francois Brummer, JP Joubert; Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Vince Gwavu, Okkie Kruger, Willem Serfontein, Bêrend Botha, Sangoni Mxoli, Bandise Maku, Dean Greyling. Reserves: Zane Botha, Corné Fourie, Rossouw de Klerk, Bosman Grobler, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Boshoff, Gerhard van der Merwe, Dries van Schalkwyk.

Kick-off: 5 pm. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan.

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