Durban - With the return of JP Pietersen
and Frans Steyn from Japan and their inclusion into the Cell C Sharks starting
XV for Saturday’s clash with the Stormers, the Durban-based side’s midfield
looks especially dangerous.
The experience they bring is special:
between them, the pair have accumulated more than 300 caps for the Sharks in
Currie Cup and Super Rugby, more than 100 at international level, as well as a
number of caps earned in France and Japan.
Commenting on the duo’s return to the side,
Director of Rugby Gary Gold, told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick:
“They’re hugely experienced Springboks and they are coming back to a group of
players they’ve been with for a long time, it’s not like this is a new team for
“And it’s not as if they haven’t been
playing rugby. They came straight back in because they’ve been playing rugby
week in and week out in Japan. I don’t think it’s a gamble bringing them right
back in, their experience is going to help us through the spine of the team and
will hopefully help Bissie (Bismarck du Plessis) and Patrick (Lambie) with the
leadership throughout the whole team.”
Commenting on the leaner-looking 27-year-old
Steyn, Gold believes there might be a subtle change to his style given the new
physique he’s brandishing. “Half of Frans has come back from Japan, I’m not
sure we’re going to use him as a battering ram. But his play-making ability is
exceptional, we want to try and have an opportunity where we can play a brand
of rugby where we have two first receivers, Frans has played 10 as well and that
makes a big difference.
“And JP’s versatility will help us as well.
Hopefully it’s having the all-round package with the older heads in what I
think is going to be a very pressured situation down at Newlands.”
The Bulls went into last week’s clash with
the Sharks having suffered consecutive defeats and they reacted well to the
pressure. Although there is no cause for panic in the Sharks camp, they know
that a good result this weekend is important and will take a lot out of the
loss - both positives and negatives - as they look to break the Stormers
“I wouldn’t say it’s a must win match, but
we’re bitterly disappointed about last weekend, we want to rectify what
happened,” he explains. “We thought we played well enough to win the game even
though there were areas of our own performance in the first half we weren’t
happy with, but we still thought we did enough. We’re going to have to repeat
that work we were happy with and rectify the other issues.
“And it doesn’t get easy against a team
hasn’t been beaten, and doing it away from home again.”
Despite the severe disappointment, there is
a steely determination to perform on the weekend, to deliver the kind of
performance that brings positive results.
“The guys are fired up, I’ve been really
impressed with their response after the bitter disappointment of last week.
There are areas we can definitely improve on, but it’s very difficult to be
angry with the players as a coaching staff; I thought the character we showed
to come back from 30-19 down was outstanding to regain the lead.
“The guys are very hungry and we’ve been
very impressed with the way they’ve trained this week.”
Saturday’s clash at Newlands kicks off at
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan
de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic
Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel
Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17
Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis
Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones
15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP
Pietersen, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus
Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5.
Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3. Matt Stevens, 2. Bismarck du
Plessis (captain), 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale
Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Marco Wentzel, 20. Renaldo Bothma, 21.
Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Andre Esterhuizen, 23. Jack Wilson