Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree believes Springbok JP Pietersen is currently the best outside centre in South Africa.
The Sharks tried the Bok wing at centre in their pre-season matches and have since kept faith with him in midfield.
“JP is big and quick, and defensively he’s very accurate,” Plumtree told Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
“To be honest, I think he’s probably the best 13 in the country at the moment, and that’s a positive; but remember, that’s my opinion.
“He’s also adapted quicker to the position than I thought he would and added another string to his bow. I think it’s great for him to be considered at wing or at centre for the Boks. He’s been excellent there, he’s a real threat and the opposition will have to watch him. He’s giving a lot of thought to the position and has adapted well. There is risk involved in moving a world-class winger to 13, but he’s embraced it and I’m really pleased for him, hopefully he will continue to get better and better," said Plumtree.
However, despite the plaudits from his coach, Pietersen himself admits it is a process he is still working through.
“Hopefully the coach is happy with my performance.
“It’s going alright so far. It’s only the second game of the tournament but I’m taking it game by game.
“When Plum (Plumtree) asked me if I would consider the move to centre, I said it would be a great challenge for me to get more involved in the game and in organising defence. I was quite keen to take up the challenge.
“It looks easy, but it isn’t and I’m still learning a lot, especially on defence, in getting into the best position you can defend. It’s also a lot about the work rate, but I do get a lot of help from my team-mates, Marius Joubert and Meyer Bosman have been a great help.
“It’s a process of learning every week. You can talk about it, but the best place to learn is on the field. It’s also about getting defensively good and getting into the right positions to attack the ball and defend well too," said Pietersen.
The Sharks take on the Lions in a Super Rugby clash at Kings Park on Saturday.Teams:Sharks:
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Frederic Michalak, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Paul JordaanLions:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies La Grange, 12 Butch James, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss (captain), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Patric Cilliers
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Stephan Greef, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 James Kamana