Frans Steyn looks set to start at inside centre against Western Province this Friday, with Fred Michalak and Ruan Pienaar completing an attacking axis likely to cause the Cape Side a few headaches.
John Plumtree must feel like Christmas and Hanukkah have all happened at the same time for him, with the unexpected return of three key Springboks, coupled with the return from injury of Michalak. Last week’s makeshift halfback pairing of Mathie and Dumond did a pretty good job against Griquas; this week, the internationals will get their chance against a WP side without the services of Willem de Waal. The talk is there will be a rookie flyhalf partnering Dewaldt Duvenage for the men in blue and white.
Steyn will partner Waylon Murray in midfield, with Stefan Terblanche at fullback and Odwa Ndungane back in his favourite number 14 jersey. There are options aplenty at left wing, with Chris Jordaan likely to get the nod over Lwazi Mvovo, Wes Bodmer and the woefully out-of-sorts Henno Mentz. Riaan Swanepoel looks likely to miss out, although hopefully the talented midfielder will be included on the bench.
The Sharks coaching team have not been told for how long they can expect to have the services of Steyn and Pienaar, which John Plumtree finds somewhat perplexing. The impression that has been created is that the pair will not be required during the home leg of the Tri-Nations, which seems frankly bizarre.
Talk that Ryan Kankowski may have made a miraculous enough recovery to participate this weekend seems to be a little premature. BJ Botha, though, is probably a good bet to take over at tighthead and together with Deon Carstens and Skipper Badenhorst, who were in brilliant form against Griquas, the Sharks will expect to dominate up front. WP will probably hace Schalk Brits at hooker, which is sure to help.
Probable Sharks Team:
15 Terblanche, 14 Ndungane, 13 Murray, 12 Steyn, 11 Jordaan, 10 Michalak, 9 Pienaar, 8 Daniel, 7 Deysel, 6 Botes, 5 Muller (capt), 4 Hargreaves, 3 Botha, 2 Badenhorst, 1 Carstens
16 Burden, 17 du Plessis, 18 Sykes, 19 Ndlovu, 20 Mathie, 21 Strauss, 22 Swanepoel