Cape Town - Sharks coach Gary Gold has explained his decision to play Joe Pietersen at flyhalf in Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against Western Province in Durban.
The move sees Lionel Cronje drop completely out of the match day 22 while Odwa Ndungane slots in at fullback where Pietersen had been playing.
Gold said on Thursday that while he had been largely pleased with Cronje’s performances at 10 since the back end of Super Rugby, things simply weren’t working for the Sharks and this change was one way of hopefully turning the corner.
“Joe has played well for the Cheetahs at flyhalf and we thought we would give him a go. Lionel has been very good for us at the end of Super Rugby and he played here now … but we’re thinking about one or two other plans and we think Joe can fulfil those,” Gold said.
“I must stress this; I think Lionel has been by in large very good for us. He won a lot of games for us towards the end of Super Rugby when we gelled as a pretty broken group.
“But Joe is also slightly older and more experienced and has also got a good head on his shoulders at 10.
“With Cobus (Reinach) back and Joe there and Philip (Van der Walt) at 8 we think it’s important that there’s a calmer leadership at the 8, 9 and 10 axis.”
Gold acknowledged numerous times that some of the performances this season had not been up to scratch, and was philosophical in explaining his willingness to mix things up against Province.
“We can continue doing the same things and hope we get a different result … I think they call that insanity … or we can make changes and try and tweak things to our strengths … and hopefully get better results.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.
15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Wandile Mjekevu, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S'bura Sithole, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Francois Kleinhans, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2. Monde Hadebe, 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Dave McDuling, 19. Christiaan de Bruin, 20. Michael Claassens, 21. Heimar Williams, 22. Garth April
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Huw Jones, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Nic Groom (captain), 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Robert du Preez, 22. Kobus van Wyk