Bok prop Jannie du Plessis looks likely to hand John Plumtree a real selection headache if he is indeed passed fit ahead of the crunch clash against the Lions this weekend.
The big tighthead, who has been away on Tri-Nations duty with the Boks and then out with a knee problem, is not subject to the same conditioning program that is keeping fellow Springboks, including his brother Bismarck, out of the Currie Cup. Despite having established himself as the first-choice Bok number 3 this year, Jannie does not have a national contract.
Plumtree’s dilemma is a result of the superb showing put in by both of his incumbent props, Pat Cilliers and Eugene van Staden, against a far heavier Free State front row last week. Van Staden, a little-known off-season signing from Griquas via Montpellier, was particularly good and must have come close to being named man of the match. Plumtree is likely to resist the temptation to bring du Plessis straight in at number 3, but rather opt to introduce him off the wood, at the expense of yet another prop who has been most solid all season, young Wiehahn Herbst.
The Sharks starting lineup to face the Lions is unlikely to see many changes to the unit that faced the Cheetahs, with Keegan Daniel probably the only doubt, given that he’s had flu this week. Plumtree may well opt to start Jacques Botes at open side flank this week and introduce Daniel off a bench that is likely to see Gerhard Mostert named alongside du Plessis.
Probable Sharks team:
15 Ludik, 14 Ndungane, 13 Terblanche, 12 Strauss, 11 Mvovo, 10 Lambie, 9 McLeod, 8 Kankowski, 7 Alberts, 6 Botes, 5 Hargreaves, 4 Sykes, 3 van Staden, 2 Burden, 1 Cilliers
16 Cooper, 17 du Plessis, 18 Mostert, 19 Daniel, 20 Kockott, 21 Pretorius, 22 Swanepoel