Fiery hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been named to start for the Sharks against the Blues on Saturday.
du Plessis is one of three changes to the pack that downed the Bulls at Loftus last weekend. Jannie du Plessis retain his spot at loosehead prop, with BJ Botha continuing on the right hand side. Veteran second-rower Albert van den Berg comes in at 4 in the place of the retiring Johan Ackermann. There is a welcome return to the 22 for Steven Sykes, who takes van den Berg’s spot on the substitutes bench.
AJ Venter has dropped out due to injury, meaning a new-look loose trio with Keegan Daniel (man of the match against the Bulls) retaining his spot at 6, while Jacques Botes is handed the number 7 jersey. Together with Ryan Kankowski at 8, it’s a combination that lacks bulk, but is certainly not short of pace and skill.
Ruan Pienaar is still out with a collarbone injury, meaning that Kockott and Michalak will again start at halfback. The centers are unchanged and there is a single change in the back three, with Stefan Terblanche coming in at right wing in place of Odwa Ndungane.
Nudungane drops to the bench, to partner Adi Jacobs and Super 14 newcomer Charl McLeod as the backline reserves. Jean Deysel, Beast Mtawarira and Craig Burden join Sykes as the forward replacements.
The starting pack weighs an impressive 863kg, an average of 107kg per man. Not too bad, considering that both Botes and Daniel are well below the 100kg mark. The average height is 1.90m, just for those who are interested in such silly stats! Among the backs, the average figures are 95kg and 1.86m respectively.
Here is the team:
Starting XV: 15. Francois Steyn, 14. Stefan Terblanche, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Bradley Barritt, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jacques Botes, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Johann Muller ( Capt ), 4. Albert van den Berg, 3. BJ Botha, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Jannie du Plessis.
Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Tendai Mtawarira, 18. Steven Sykes, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Charl Mcleod, 21. Adrian Jacobs, 22. Odwa Ndungane.