In the name of continuity, Sharks coach John Plumtree has made minimal changes to the run-on XV to play against the Boland Cavaliers in the second round of the Currie Cup at Absa Stadium on Friday night.
Report courtesy www.iol.co.za.
With wing JP Pietersen having been recalled to the Bok squad for the away leg of the Tri-Nations, up-and-coming Lwazi Mvovo has been named to start while at flyhalf, exciting prospect Andrew Borgen may get his first Currie Cup cap if Brad Barritt fails a late fitness test.
Barritt is still battling with a couple of injury niggles and Plumtree said they would probably make a decision on his availability on Friday.
The only other changes are on the bench with lock Nikolai Blignaut, former Sharks U21 captain Riaan Swanepoel, scrumhalf Charl McLeod and utility back Monty Dumond all getting an opportunity to strut their stuff.
Dumond, who only joined the Sharks this week after returning from France, has the ability to slot in just about anywhere in the backline and will also provide the Sharks with another goal-kicking option.
At hooker, Craig Burden gets another opportunity to get things right after an indifferent performance against Western Province this past weekend when the Sharks lost eight of their own line-outs.
Plumtree said he wanted to provide the 23-year-old with an opportunity to get things right on Friday night.
“There is some pressure in his position and he needs to play well but he has only been a hooker for a little over a year and I think he just needs time to improve certain areas of his game.”
In fact, Burden’s metamorphosis from a winger last year to a front-rower this year has been heralded as a “revelation” by Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford.
“As a new hooker there is probably no one in the world who works harder on throwing than him,” Bashford said. “We’ve been unbelievably pleased at how he has made the transition, it’s something that doesn’t often happen in this game.”
The only noticeable player omissions for tomorrow’s clash are that of prop BJ Botha, who was available to the Sharks following his exclusion from the Bok squad, and veteran lock Albert van den Berg.
Plumtree said he was simply giving Botha a week off to rest and recuperate after a playing a lot of rugby. He said the inclusion of Blignaut ahead of Van den Berg was merely to give one player a rest and another an opportunity to impress.
Making only minor changes to the starting line-up was a decision Plumtree had alluded to all week, saying it was important to establish continuity in selection and to allow for combinations to develop.
He added that it was also an indication they had respect for the Boland side.
“You have to have respect for everyone you play against at this level”
Boland suffered a major setback yesterday when captain and hooker Conrad Burke was ruled out for three months with a torn pectoral muscle from their first round match against the Valke.
Clemen Lewis will fulfil the berth at No 2 in his absence, while centre Piet van Zyl will assume the captaincy reins.
Though Boland will be boosted by the return of industrious flank and Sevens Springbok, Zolano Mofu.Tweet