fast little loans
Earlier this week, Sharks coach John Plumtree promised changes to his team as a reaction to the defeat to the Brumbies.
And last night he made eight of them, although not all are performance related though.
The match 22 that lost 29-6 has had a good shuffle but there is only one newcomer to the squad and that is Sharks XV lock Jandré Marais, who covers youngster Pieter Steph du Toit, who has been rewarded with a starting position in the second row at the cost of Anton Bresler, who drops out.
Plumtree has promoted players who have been in good form off the bench and also benched players who have been struggling with injury niggles and form.
Prime example is centre Francois Steyn, who is among the substitutes this week after having captained the side in the first three matches. His place is taken by Meyer Bosman. The other changes to the backline are not as startling, with wings Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane swapping places and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach returning for Charl McLeod.
There are two changes to the loose trio, one of them positional. Captain Keegan Daniel has moved to No8 for the axed Ryan Kankowski and in-form Jacques Botes is promoted to the open-side flank berth. Du Toit had an exceptional game off the bench last week and was one of the few to come out of the Brumbies match with his reputation enhanced. In the front row, “The Beast” Mtawarira is the only survivor, with Craig Burden and Jannie du Plessis relegated to the bench.
“I was really happy with what Pieter-Steph brought to the team last week and we’re continuing his development by giving him a start, it’s the same with Kyle Cooper at hooker,” Plumtree said. “There have also been changes because of what I saw as poor performance. Meyer deserves an opportunity and we’ve taken Frans out to give him quite a big week of conditioning.
“Jannie has a bit of a knee injury and his wife is about to have a baby, he’s had a difficult week so Wiehahn Herbst starts at tighthead prop,” the coach continued.
“Jacques Botes has been in great form so he gets a start and Ryan will get a rest, the same as Burden. They can show me what they have when they come off the bench.”
Plumtree acknowledged that it is taking Steyn longer than envisaged to get back into Super Rugby after his time in French Top 14. “He has some work to do,” Plumtree said. “It was only two months ago that he was 118kg. He’s come back from a bad ankle injury last year and hadn’t played for months, and he’s now down to 109kg. His best fighting weight will be 105 or 106kg, so he’s on the right track.”
Plumtree said the backline was missing the silky passing talents of Tim Whitehead, who is almost over a broken arm.
Sharks: Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Keegan Daniel (capt), Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Craig Burden, Jannie du Plessis, Jandré Marais, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Francois Steyn, Riaan Viljoen – The Star