According to Christo Buchner of Beeld, Sharks coach John Plumtree should field something resembling his strongest possible line-up for Friday night’s warm-up against the Pumas in Nelspruit.
Friday’s set-back, though, in which both Keegan Daniel and Tim Whitehead were lost to injuries, will muddy the water a little and the team now won’t be quite as cut-and-dried as it may have been in Plumtree’s head towards the end of last week. Also weighing on the coach’s minds will be a fear of any further injuries to his front-line men ahead of the opener against the Cheetahs a week later; Jimmy Stonehouse and his team should present a far tougher challenge than the young Leopards side that travelled to Maritzburg last weekend and with increased physicality comes and increased likelihood of knocks.
Expect to see another 24-man squad his week, giving little real indication as to the coach’s thought re bench composition for the Cheetahs game; however, one gets the feeling that a few guys, most notably Allan Dell, may just have played their way into the match 22 with their showing against the Leopards. Don’t expect the forward pack to include too many of the same names this time around, though, with Beast Mtawarira, Craig Burden, Jannie du Plessis, Anton Bresler, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski all likely to start. Willem Alberts appears to be struggling with another niggle, so Jean Deysel may enjoy another run at blindside flank this week, unless Plumtree opts to try something left-field and give Pieter-Steph du Toit a go in that position.
Daniel’s injury should probably see Marcell Coetzee favoured at 6, although Plumtree could also pick the youngster at 7 and give Jacques Botes another go on the open-side. Paul Jordaan should probably come straight in at 13 for Whitehead, with JP Pietersen perhaps replacing Odwa Ndungane, and Louis Ludik Riaan Viljoen, in the other changes to the backline.
Possible Sharks 24:
15 Ludik, 14 Pietersen, 13 Jordaan, 12 Steyn (capt), 11 Mvovo, 10 Lambie, 9 McLeod, 8 Kankowski, 7 Deysel, 6 Coetzee, 5 van der Merwe, 4 Bresler, 3 du Plessis, 2 Burden, 1 Mtawarira
Subs: 16 Cooper, 17 Dell , 18 J Marais, 19 du Toit, 20 Mtembu, 21 Reinach, 22 James, 23 Bosman, 24 Sithole