Johannesburg - Lwazi Mvovo has been included in the Sharks starting team in place of the injured JP Pietersen for Saturday’s Super 14 match against the Bulls at Loftus.
Pietersen came off towards the end of the first half in last week’s 23-10 Sharks win over the Blues, so Mvovo has been on the field for the Sharks recently and the 50 or so minutes he played against the Blues should be a confidence booster for the Bulls match.
However, this is a game Sharks coach John Plumtree would love to have been at full strength for, as the Sharks still have a remote mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-finals and have every intention of giving the Bulls a massive fight.
“There have been some great matches between the Bulls and the Sharks over the years and I am sure this will be another,” said Plumtree at a media conference earlier in the week.
“It is a pity that we don’t have more to play for, but we still have our own motivation and our own goals we are working towards and the Bulls/Sharks games, no matter where they are played, are normally close, like last year’s match in Durban. We are going there to win, and it will be a case of our big runners against their big runners.”
Plumtree is right when he says the Sharks have dug deep in Pretoria over the years, and their recent record at Loftus is a good one. Even though the odds may be stacked against the Sharks this time, Plumtree might well have reminded his men of the game where they played most of the match with 14 men after Johan Ackermann was sent off and they came from behind to beat the Bulls.
In another change to the team that beat the Blues, Riaan Swanepoel has recovered sufficiently from his injury to return for Andries Strauss at inside centre. Keegan Daniel, a player who has done well at Loftus in recent seasons, returns to the bench, with Luzuko Vulindlu taking Mvovo’s place as one of the backline reserves.
The Sharks have opted to continue with the same tight five that has done duty the past few games, thus meaning that John Smit, the Springbok captain, continues to gain experience at loosehead prop, with Beast Mtawarira, the Bok first choice in the position, among the reserves.
15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Riaan Swanepoel, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 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. Keegan Daniel, 20 Rory Kockott, 21. Andries Strauss, 22. Luzuko Vulindlu
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13.
Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10.
Morné Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter,
6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Bakkies Botha, 3.
Werner Kruger, 2. Gary Botha, 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp
16. Bandise Maku, 17. Bees Roux, 18. Danie Rossouw, 19. Derick Kuün,
20. Heini Adams, 21. Stephan Dippenaar, 22. Pedrie Wannenburg