Vodacom Super Rugby
JP, Sykes back for Sharks
JP Pietersen (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree has brought back familiar faces into the starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
According to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick, JP Pietersen is back at outside centre with Steven Sykes back in the starting lock berth.
While the Sharks suffered a mini injury crisis after the Reds game at Kings Park before hitting their four week overseas tour, they have welcomed Pietersen and Sykes back together with the inclusion of Jean Deysel who jetted in over the weekend to join up with the squad.
Sykes has been passed fit to start on Saturday after playing off the bench last week, following an injury picked up in the Reds match two weeks ago in the only change to the pack.
Amongst the backs, Pat Lambie has been ruled out with a dental injury, with French international Frederic Michalak named to start at flyhalf in his place.
The return from injury of Pietersen sees him back at outside centre to partner Tim Whitehead who shifts back to inside centre after playing in the unfamiliar role of 13 against the Waratahs. Meyer Bosman shifts down to the bench.
Anton Bresler will play off the bench in a rotational switch with Sykes while Deysel will look to make his first Super Rugby appeareance of the year after 75 minutes for the Sharks XV in their Vodacom Cup match against Free State last Friday evening.
Craig Burden and Wiehahn Herbst offer front row stocks off the bench with Jacques Botes the fifth forward named amongst the subs. Bosman and Louis Ludik complete the 22-man match squad.
The Brumbies are targeting a fourth win from five starts to continue an impressive start to the season which sees them top of the Australian Conference and third on the overall log, while the Sharks will be looking to consolidate on some good performances of late, and specifically shoring up defensive lapses that cost them against the Waratahs last Saturday in Sydney.
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 2 Dale Chadwick.
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Louis Ludik.