Durban - Ruan Pienaar finds himself back at flyhalf as the Sharks seek a solution to the pivot crisis that has been left by the premature and unexpected retirement last week of Steve Meyer.
Pienaar was on the bench last week after just returning from injury, but finds himself elevated to the starting lineup for the second Vodacom Super 14 match of the season against the Vodacom Cheetahs in Durban on Friday night.
The Springbok utility back was lined up to play most of the season at his preferred position of scrumhalf, but the Sharks have been left with little option but to field him at flyhalf. He has played several Tests for the Springboks in the No10 jersey, but struggled there for much of 2009 and was displaced in the starting team by Morne Steyn.
Key for Pienaar will be to build up his confidence, which has been at a low ebb. He did show encouraging signs though when he came on at flyhalf for the Sharks in last week’s narrow defeat to the Chiefs in the opening Vodacom Super 14 match in Durban.
Pienaar’s recall for Monty Dumond is one of two changes to the backline that did duty against the Chiefs. It is interesting to note that the other, the selection of a fit again Adrian Jacobs at inside centre, also mirrors one of the more controversial selections made by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers last year.
There was some eyebrow raising in Durban when Jacobs was chosen as an inside centre for the end of year tour, but now he will be wearing the No12 jersey in partnership with fellow Springbok Waylon Murray. Andries Strauss is the man who makes way, but finds a place on the bench.
There are some interesting changes up front, particularly if you note that the Cheetahs outscrummed the Sharks in last year’s ABSA Currie Cup semi-final. For instance, John Smit returns to hooker for the first time this year, with Bismarck du Plessis dropping to the bench.
Is this an acknowledgement that Smit struggles at tighthead, or is it perhaps an indication that the theory that Du Plessis was the problem at scrum time for the Boks last year is gaining currency in Durban?
There are two other changes to the pack, one at loose-forward, where Jacques Botes plays ahead of Keegan Daniel, and the other at lock, where Alistair Hargreaves finds himself elevated into the starting line-up from nowhere following injuries to Johann Muller and Gerhard Mostert.
15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Adrian Jacobs, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Ruan Pienaar, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. John Smt (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira Substitutes: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. Willem Alberts, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Monty Dumond, 22. Andries Strauss
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Danwel Demas, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. Jongi Nokwe, 10. Naas Olivier, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 8. Frans Viljoen, 7. Juan Smith (captain), 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. David de Villiers, 4. Nico Breedt, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Wian du Preez Substitutes: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Sarel Pretorius, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Hennie Daniller