Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree
has named a strong side for their Super Rugby opener against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick
Despite the unavailability of some key players due to injury, the Sharks coach picked a very experienced pack, with Ryan Kankowski
, back from a six month stint in Japan, starting at No 8, alongside fellow loose forwards Jacques Botes and Marcell Coetzee
Coetzee might only have 23 caps, but he has represented South Africa 12 times already despite being just 21 years of age, while Botes and Kankowski boast nearly 200 caps between them (Botes is a centurion himself).
Franco van der Merwe partners Anton Bresler in the second row while there are no real surprises in the backline with Patrick Lambie
at flyhalf, captain Frans Steyn
partnering Paul Jordaan in the midfield, Springboks JP Pietersen
and Lwazi Mvovo
out wide and Louis Ludik completing the line-up at fullback.
“It was a case of the experience factor with the tight five I’ve chosen,” said the Sharks coach. “The way the Cheetahs play influenced a lot of the selections, they have a lot of speed and genuine threats in their backline and we have to be able to match that defensively.
“We’ve picked a side that has the most experience for the occasion."
Bismarck du Plessis (knee), Willem Alberts (shoulder), Butch James (knee), Tim Whitehead (hand) and Dale Chadwick (foot) have all been ruled out for the opening part of the season due to injuries.
The clash at the Free State Stadium kicks off at 17:05 on Saturday.Teams:Cheetahs:
15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Willie le Roux, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Robert Ebersohn, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 6. Frans
Viljoen, 5. Francois Uys, 4. Lood de Jager, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1. Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen
, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius
, 21. Elgar Watts, 22. Ryno BenjaminSharks:
15. Louis Ludik 14. JP Pietersen
13. Paul Jordaan 12. Francois Steyn
(captain) 11. Lwazi Mvovo
10. Patrick Lambie
9. Cobus Reinach 8. Ryan Kankowski
7. Marcell Coetzee
6. Jacques Botes 5. Franco van der Merwe 4. Anton Bresler 3. Jannie du Plessis 2. Craig Burden 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper 17. Wiehahn Herbst 18. Pieter-Steph du Toit 19. Jean Deyse20. Charl McLeod 21. Meyer Bosman
22. Odwa Ndungane