Cape Town - The news that the Sharks had lost Tim Whitehead to a hand fracture against the Stormers after their semi-final match, was off-set by the return from injury of Pat Lambie and Paul Jordaan who have both been included in the starting line-up for Saturday’s Final.
According to Sharks website editor
, Michael Marnewick
, Sharks Coach John Plumtree has been able to consistently name the same pack over the Final Series which obviously boosts the team’s confidence when that pack is delivering such commanding performances, and they will be asked to put in one last massive effort to lay the platform for the backs in this potentially history-making game.
Jordaan at inside centre is a straight swap for the injured Whitehead, while Lambie will start at fullback with Riaan Viljoen playing off the bench, with an otherwise unchanged line-up, one that differs significantly to the team that lost by four points to the Chiefs in the pool stages.
With a near full strength side to pick from, pretty much unheard of at the climax of a long tournament, John Plumtree explains that it does add to the belief that the team can do the job on Saturday.
“There has been some continuity in selection which has been great, at this time of the competition it’s really important, but at the same time, we’ve had some injuries as well, particularly to our midfield.
“So it’s fantastic having Pat Lambie and Paul Jordaan coming back into contention. We’re a bit lucky with the backs because we’ve lost a couple through injury, so having some come back at this stage is vital. Being able to select the same pack for the past few weeks has been great.”
Bismarck du Plessis has shrugged off added meaning to this game by virtue of the fact that he is also making his 100th appearance in Super Rugby for The Sharks. Certainly, a win will make celebrating his achievement that much sweeter. Teams:
15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13
Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron
Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6
Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2
Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Substitutes: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane,
20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak,9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis,1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Meyer Bosman
22 Riaan Viljoen