Bismarck du Plessis has been ruled out of the Sharks team to face the Crusaders, along with Bradley Barritt. It also seems as though a few last-minute reinforcements have been summoned to sit on the bench as the injury crunch starts to take its toll.
BJ Botha and Craig Burden, the latter starting his first Super 14 game, have been named in the front row alongside Beast Mtawarira. Captain Johann Muller has been named to play, but is bracketed with AJ Venter, should he fail a late fitness test. Albert van den Berg retains the number 4 jersey.
Venter himself will start at number 7, should he not be pressed into service in the second row, with Jacques Botes moving across to the open side and Keegan Daniel reverting to the bench. Jean Deysel has been named among the reserves, but will start on the flank should Muller not be passed fit. In the event that Deysel has to start, Alistair Hargreaves will be on the bench, which is in itself surprising, since we all thought he was still in Durban!
In the backs, Ruan Pienaar will start at flyhalf, after Fred Michalak’s knee injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. Barritt’s continued unavailability means that Frans Steyn will get another start at inside center, with Waylon Murray outside him. The back three is unchanged, with JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane and Stefan Terblanche picking up from where they left off last week.
Another last minute substitute, Andries Strauss, has also joined the tour and he will sit on the bench along with Adrian Jacobs and Henno Mentz. There is no replacement scrumhalf. Completing the reserve contingent are front-rowers Jannie du Plessis and Skipper Badenhorst.
Here is the team:
15 Terblanche, 14 Ndungane, 13 Murray, 12 Steyn, 11 Pietersen, 10 Pienaar, 9 Kockott, 8 Kankowski, 7 Venter/Deysel, 6 Botes, 5 Muller (capt)/Venter, 4 van den Berg, 3 Botha, 2 Burden, 1 Mtawarira
16 Badenhorst, 17 du Plessis, 18 Deysel/Hargeaves, 19 Daniel, 20 Strauss, 21 Jacobs, 22 Mentz
Good news! Johann Muller has been cleared to play. That means the lineup looks like this:
15 Terblanche, 14 Ndungane, 13 Murray, 12 Steyn, 11 Pietersen, 10 Pienaar, 9 Kockott, 8 Kankowski, 7 Venter, 6 Botes, 5 Muller (capt) 4 van den Berg, 3 Botha, 2 Burden, 1 Mtawarira
16 Badenhorst, 17 du Plessis, 18 Deysel, 19 Daniel, 20 Strauss, 21 Jacobs, 22 Mentz