The decision about which of his scrumhalves to pick for the upcoming clash with Western Province may just have got a bit easier for John Plumtree. Charl McLeod, superb in his last two outings, has picked up an injury against Griquas and is a doubtful starter for this weekend.
Fit again Rory Kockott will undoubtedly take over in the number 9 jersey, while there will most likely be another change at inside centre, with Andries Strauss also in doubt for the game. Depending on how well Riaan Swanepoel has recovered from a hamstring strain, the nuggety centre could come straight back in to partner Waylon Murray in midfield. Then again, Plumtree now finds himself with more in-form flyhalves than he knows what to do with, so perhaps Juan Hernández could wear the number 12 jersey this week.
It would certainly be grossly unfair to demote flyhalf Monty Dumond after two frankly superb outings at pivot. Having enjoyed a surfeit of good, quick ball from McLeod, though, it remains to be seen whether Dumond will be as effective with the more individualistic Kockott controlling matters at the base.
Province, in contrast, are scratching their heads to find any flyhalf whatsoever. Willem de Waal is out injured, while Peter Grant is apparently soldiering on despite having picked up numerous niggles, inter alia a broken bone in his foot. The plan to convert scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman into a makeshift pivot seems stillborn, as he too has picked up an injury. Should Grant cry off this week, Allister Coetzee will have no option but to move the woeful Joe Pietersen into the flyhalf channel.
It’s not all roses for the Sharks up-front, though, with tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst having been cited for charging dangerously into a ruck – an act for which he was yellow carded. I really didn’t think the indiscretion warranted further sanction than that card, but you never know when it comes to the circus that is SARU’s judiciary process. Pat Cilliers has looked distinctly uncomfortable at tighthead for most of the first round and it would be a blow to the Sharks should he be forced back into that position against Province – especially since the Capetonians seem to have finally learned how to scrum. Wicus Blaauw is fast earning a reputation and has already destroyed far better tightheads than Cilliers this season.
Province will definitely be without lock Adriaan Fondse, though, as he is unlikely to play again this season. Although they have a superb starting lock pair in Chris Jack and Anton van Zyl, they’ll need to find somebody of the appropriate pedigree to bring onto the bench – not an easy feat at all.Tweet