Sharks team changes

2014-03-14 00:00

S’BURA Sithole, JP Pietersen and Stephan Lewies will all start for the first time this season when the Sharks take on the Queensland Reds at King’s Park Stadium tomorrow.

In another change from last week’s run-on side, Pat Lambie, who missed last week’s game against the Lions through illness returns to flyhalf.

The inclusions of Sithole at outside centre and Lewies at lock follow the news that Paul Jordaan and Pieter-Steph du Toit have both suffered knee injuries and will therefore be unavailable this weekend. Experienced campaigner Pietersen takes the place of Odwa Ndungane who has been given time off following the death of his father.

Having initially being included in the squad yesterday, Du Toit injured his knee in the morning training session, creating an opportunity for Lewies who has been on the bench for all of the Sharks’ games so far this season.

Talking up Lewies, Sharks coach Jake White said there was a process at the Sharks and in the rest of the country where they were grooming callers in lineouts following the earlier retirement of Victor Matfield.

“There’s been a void of guys who can jump in the middle of the lineout and call the lineout. To have Pieter-Steph and Stephan Lewies to be able to do that role is obviously a bonus for us. Now that Pieter-Steph has got a bang on his knee, it opens up another opportunity for us,” he said, adding that the change was “like-for-like”.

White was also relieved to have his number 10 back in Lambie.

“As much as Francois did a relatively good job, he wasn’t a 10. It was a bit of a disruption in terms of the way we attacked and as I said afterwards Frans himself admitted he was a bit rusty and learnt a lot more about how 10s want things and how 10s expect things.

“Now that he’s moving back to 12, he’s going to be a lot more of an understanding 12 knowing how difficult it was when he was playing at 10.”

The big change, though, was in the number 13 jersey that saw Sithole come into the side for the injured Jordaan.

It was no surprise White went with Sithole at outside centre considering how impressed he was with how the Queen’s College Old Boy handled himself in their thumping pre-season win over the Lions.

“I really look forward to watching S’bura. I really believe that there’s a position in South Africa at 13 that’s available and I have full faith in him as a sevens player and as a guy who has all the ability to play at 13,” White said at a press conference at King’s Park Stadium yesterday morning.

“Often we try and hide guys like that on the wing. But I think he’s got a lot of attributes that are good for us at 13.”

White compared Sithole, the quickest player in the Sharks’ squad, to 22-year-old Australian international Tevita Kuridrani who he also converted from a wing to a centre when he was coaching the Brumbies.

“He’s very strong on his feet, he’s got unbelievable handling, he likes to run with the ball and he likes to finish. Sometimes I find that people think that all finishers have to be at the end of the play. And defensively, he might not be used to [outside centre] but he can tackle,” said White, who felt that Sithole would grow into the position.

Another change will see Tera Mtembu start on the bench in the place of Jean Deysel who also picked up a knock, also to the knee.

The Sharks are expected to name Lewies’s replacement on the bench today.

Tomorrow’s game will kick off at ­5.05 pm. The referee will be Lourens van der Merwe who will be assisted by Jaco van Heerden and Stefan Breytenbach. Shaun Veldsman will be the TMO.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawa Replacement: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 TBA, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 Jaco van Tonder

Reds: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Rod Davies, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12. Mike Harris, 11. Lachlan Turner, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Jake Schatz, 7. Liam Gill, 6. Ed Quirk, 5. James Horwill (captain), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. Greg Holmes, 2. Saia Faingaa, 1. James Slipper Replacements: 16. James Hanson, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Jono Owen, 19. Ed O’Donoghue, 20. Beau Robinson, 21. Nicholas Frisby, 22. Ben Tapuai, 23. Dom Shipperley.

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