Sharks coach John Plumtree has already changed one aspect since taking over from Dick Muir. He names his teams early and doesn’t mess around with meaningless subterfuge.
The Sharks side to face Western Province in their Currie Cup opener on Friday night has been named. The team contains 7 Springboks in the run-on side with an eighth on the bench. Loose forward Jean Deysel, injured in last weekend’s warm-up match against the Griffons, has not been included.
Steven Sykes will again play at blindside flank, leaving young Alistair Hargreaves to partner skipper Johann Muller in the second row. The front row of Deon Carstens, Craig Burden and Jannie du Plessis picks itself, but one would expect to see Pat Cilliers as the reserve prop. Robbie Harris, though, has been named in the number 17 jersey, making one wonder whether Cilliers isn’t perhaps carrying an injury. Skipper Badenhorst and Albert van den Berg are the other tight forward replacements.
Jacques Botes has been named at number 8, with Keegan Daniel completing the loose trio. Look out for Wildebeest opensider Skollie Ndlovu, who has been named as the loose forward replacement.
The back division has an experienced look to it, with Rory Kockott and Brad Barritt the halfbacks. Andries Strauss partners Waylon Murray in the midfiield, while all three of the back three are Springboks: JP Pietersen, Henno Mentz and Stefan Terblanche. Scott Mathie has, somewhat surprisingly, been selected as the reserve scrumnhalf over Charl Macleod. Flyhalf Andrew Borgen and the exciting flyer Lwazi Mvovo are the other backline replacements.
Here is the complete side:
15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Henno Mentz, 10 Bradley Barritt, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Jacques Botes, 7 Steven Sykes, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Deon Carstens
16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 Robbie Harris, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Scott Mathie, 21 Lwazi Mvovo, 22 Andrew Borgen