Smith as roving front-rower for World Cup

2011-04-20 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree believes that the Springboks could follow the Sharks’ example and use captain John Smit as a roving front-rower at the Rugby World Cup.

Plumtree met with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers at King’s Park on Monday to discuss the role which Smit — the Sharks and Springbok captain — should play in the twilight of his career.

De Villiers has been critical of the Sharks for not fielding Smit at hooker but instead using him as a utility forward with the ability to play in all three front-row positions.

The Bok coach said last month that he would be speaking to Plumtree about selecting Smit at hooker.

But Monday’s meeting has apparently reinforced Plumtree’s position and the Sharks coach believes he has shown De Villiers how he could effectively use Smit at the World Cup.

“Peter (de Villiers) and I had a positive meeting. How I’m using John here with the Sharks is an insight into possibly how the Springboks can use him,” Plumtree said yesterday.

Plumtree has rotated Smit during the Super Rugby competition, fielding him primarily as a loosehead and as back-up to the dynamic Bismarck du Plessis at hooker.

But Plumtree said he did not want to prescribe to the Bok coach on selection and where to field his captain in the front-row.

“How I use him here suits our team dynamics but how Peter uses John is totally up to him,” he said.

Plumtree said that Smit was “happy” with the Sharks’ arrangement.

“At the end of the day, we’ll do what’s best for the Sharks and that’s pretty much what our discussion (with De Villiers) was based upon,” he added.

The indications are that captain Smit will either be starting at prop against the Hurricanes at King’s Park on Saturday or will be on the bench, with Beast Mtawarira starting at loosehead.

Plumtree said that flank Jean Deysel, who has played in three Vodacom Cup matches since returning from knee surgery, could be back in the 22-man Sharks squad against the Stormers in Cape Town the following weekend.

“He won’t play this weekend because there is no Vodacom Cup and no club rugby, but he’ll do a week of conditioning and we’ll consider him for Stormers next week,” Plumtree said.

Flyhalf Pat Lambie, over his broken finger, will be back, he said.

“Lambie has had the most experience with way we’ve played the game over the last six or seven months. We have missed him but we’ve had some tough challenge without him, playing the Crusaders away in particular and then the Stormers.

“Jacques-Louis Potgieter’s goal-kicking has let him down a bit, and he’ll be the first to admit that, but he’s played some pretty good football outside of his kicking and we’ve been happy with that.”

“It takes some time for a flyhalf to settle in and I’ve been happy with his progress. Jacques-Louis carried the ball a lot against the Lions which I asked him to do,” he added.

But Plumtree said he was pleased to have Lambie back.

“He understands what we are trying to do as a unit and I hope his finger has recovered fully,” he said.

The Hurricanes, based in Cape Town, have been boosted by the arrival of All Black fullback Cory Jane for the Sharks game.

Jane missed the Hurricanes’ 50-47 weekend win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein as he stayed behind in New Zealand for the birth of his third child.

The Hurricanes will travel to Durban later this week. The match kicks off at 5.05pm and Australian referee Stuart Dickinson will handle the game.

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