Vodacom Super 14

Change at centre for Sharks

2010-04-22 10:07
John Plumtree (File)
Durban - Riaan Swanepoel’s ankle injury is not serious enough to keep him out of the match squad, but the Sharks have taken the safe option of shifting him to the bench for Saturday’s Super 14 clash with the Blues in Durban.

Andries Strauss comes into Swanepoel’s place in the starting team for a match that the Sharks have to win with a bonus point to keep their slender Super 14 hopes alive. In the other change to the squad, Michael Rhodes comes in as the loose-forward reserve. Last week the Sharks took two lock reserves to Johannesburg for the derby against the Lions.

The Sharks have won four matches in succession now and the coaching staff are determined to keep changes to a minimum for the purpose of continuity and retaining momentum.

Indeed, it may be that in some areas, such as the front-row, the abandonment of the rotation policies of earlier in the season are making a positive difference. However, it is interesting to note that it is now several weeks since Springbok first choice loosehead Beast Mtawarira last started a game for the Durban franchise, with John Smit making a good fist of his switch to the left hand side of the scrum.

Coach John Plumtree has admitted the Sharks are going to be more severely tested than they were against the Lions, particularly the defence, but the Sharks do have a good record against the Blues. They have won the last five matches against the Auckland based team.

“It is nice for once to be coming up against a team that has us as their bogey side,” joked Plumtree.

“But the reality is that we have been a bit fortunate about when we have played the Blues in some years. The two overseas wins were great, you always have to play well to beat them at home, and those were massive performances. In the games in Durban though they have often come out here with injuries.”

Jetlag has sometimes been a factor in the past, and it could be again, as once again the Blues are starting the South African leg of their campaign in Durban. However, Plumtree is not banking on it helping his team.

“Travel fatigue isn’t quite the same when you fly in this direction, and without being disrespectful to the other teams they play on tour, I also imagine that ours might be the game they have targeted for a big effort.”


15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Andy Goode, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis 1. John Smit (captain)

Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Tendai Mtawarira, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Michael Rhodes, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Riaan Swanepoel, 22. Lwazi Mvovo

15. Isaia Toeava, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 13. Benson Stanley, 12. Luke McAlister, 11. Rudi Wulf, 10. Stephen Brett, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Peter Saili, 7. Serge Lilo, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Filo Paulo, 4. Kurtis Haiu, 3. John Afoa, 2. Keven Mealamu (captain), 1. Tony Woodcock

Substitutes: 16. Tom McCartney, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. Andrew Van der Heijden, 19. Viliami Ma'afu, 20. Chris Smylie, 21. Rene Ranger, 22. Paul Williams

Read more on:    super 14  |  john plumtree  |  durban  |  blues  |  sharks

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