KSA Shark ©

Michalak Likely to Start against Force.

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks, Super 14 on 13 Feb 2008 at 04:57

Sharks coach Dick Muir on Tuesday delayed finalising his team for Friday night’s Super 14 opener against the Western Force at King’s Park but still expects to name close to a full-strength outfit.

John Bishop reports for The Witness that the injuries largely involve players on the bench but wing Odwa Ndungane is one of his first-choice players who will miss the Force game.

Heno Mentz rather than Stefan Terblanche is expected to take over from Ndungane.

On the evidence of last night’s practice, Muir is to field close to the team which did duty in the final pre-season friendly against the Lions last week.

Frans Steyn will start at fullback with JP Pietersen and Mentz on the wings. Waylon Murray and Brad Barritt will be in midfield with Frenchman Freddie Michalak and Ruan Pienaar the halfback pairing.

The pack has a tried and tested look to it with Ryan Kankwoski, Jacques Botes and AJ Venter forming a familiar loose trio and captain Johann Muller locking the scrum with Johan Ackermann.

Depth for the long season

With first-choice Springbok tighthead BJ Botha returning after missing the Lions game, Muir may consider shifting the experienced Jannie du Plessis across to the loosehead though the form of Beast Mtawarira against the Lions will probably ensure that the crowd favourite keeps his place.

Muir said on Tuesday that the Sharks had shown in the two warm-up games that they had the depth for the long season while also providing him with a variety of options depending on the opposition.

“We have seen different combinations and I believe we have the best unit for the demands of the Force game.

“The Force beat us last year and they have pretty much the same personnel. They are the top Australian franchise, ranked higher than us in terms of general expectations this year.”

Muir said that the loss of experienced players like John Smit, Percy Montgomery, Butch James and Bob Skinstad had left the Sharks facing a rebuilding phase with new players coming in.

“But, in saying that, we have good depth in the squad as well as young players who are now in their third season of Super 14 rugby.”

Friday’s match will kick-off at 19:10.

Likely Sharks starting line-up:
Frans Steyn, Henno Mentz, Waylon Murray, Brad Barritt, JP Pietersen, Freddie Michalak, Ruan Pienaar, Ryan Kankowski, AJ Venter, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (c), Johan Ackermann, BJ Botha, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira.


  • Mentz ahead of Terblanche is not what I expected, but i am not going to question Dicks Selection policies………. I’ll leave that to Rob 😉

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.02.08 04:59:08 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • If that is the correct team then I am a very happy chap.

    It has the looks of a team that could do the deed on Friday night.

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.02.08 05:00:40 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • I hope this is true…I read an article earlier saying the exact opposite that it’s doubtful that Fred was going to start. Although Fred did say on his myspace after the test against the lions when the calf issue stories started to “do not believe the press because they lie”.

  • Comment 3, posted at 13.02.08 06:57:09 by milissa Reply
  • Hi Milissa.

    I read a similar article that Michalak may not play and as is usually the case it depends WHERE you read it. 🙂

    There is an article on planet Rugby that makes it sound doom and gloomish and there is an article on ?????? (cannot, for the life of me, find it now) that makes it sound MUCH less serious and only precautionary.

    Both the other articles were written yesterDAY and this one seems to have been written last night after the practise session, so HOPEFULLY this is the latest news and things are looking.

  • Comment 4, posted at 13.02.08 07:12:59 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Melissa – How does one find Fred’s space on Myspace?

  • Comment 5, posted at 13.02.08 07:16:09 by hellbent Reply
  • *nods* I’m just going to believe Fred’s official myspace statement about the press telling lies. Although a part of me wonders if perhaps these conflicting reports are intentionally to some extent to mess with the WF’s heads.

  • Comment 6, posted at 13.02.08 07:23:16 by milissa Reply
  • http://www.myspace.com/officielmichalak82

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.02.08 07:24:39 by milissa Reply
  • No the WF have their own “Head Messer” or should that be “Jaw breaker”? 😉

  • Comment 8, posted at 13.02.08 07:26:50 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • French import Frederic Michalak is a doubtful starter for the Sharks’ opening Super 14 match, against the Western Force on Friday.

    Writes Steve Farrell for Planet Rugby

    John Plumtree, the Sharks’ forwards coach, told rugby365 that Michalak’s participation on Friday hangs in the balance – severely disrupting the Sharks’ preparations.

    “Fred [Michalak] hurt his calf muscle during training.

    “A decision on his fitness will be taken later in the week,” he said.

    In the event of Michalak being ruled out, Plumtree hinted that the flyhalf berth could be filled by the multi-talented Frans Steyn.

    “If Fred is unable to play, we will probably go for Frans at No.10.

    “AD Jacobs is also more than capable of slotting in at flyhalf, so it all depends on what Dick [Muir, the Sharks head coach] wants,” he said.

    If Michalak is indeed ruled out, it will be a cruel blow to the former Toulouse player, who has looked sharp in pre-season training.

    Steyn was set to don the No.15 jersey on Friday, having played at inside centre for the Springboks during their victorious World Cup campaign.

    The last time he had the No.10 on his back was for the Sharks during last year’s Super 14, but he is more than capable of doing a job for his team at flyhalf.

    He enjoys the physical stuff, has a superb boot and his capable of creating space for the outside backs.

    In other injury news, centre Waylon Murray has a hamstring strain, but did train with the team on Tuesday.

    “Waylon has a slight hamstring strain but we expect him to be fit by Friday,” said Plumtree.

    Plumtree emphasised the importance of winning their home games if they are to challenge for their second consecutive semifinal berth.

    “We have a tough draw this year [the Sharks cross the Tasman Sea twice during their five match tour of Australasia], so starting well on Friday is very important for us, as is every home game,” he said.

    The Sharks will be looking for the same consistency as they displayed last year, where they won their opening five home games, before the Brumbies ended their unbeaten run in Round Seven.

    Asked whether the Sharks would specifically target any away games, Plumtree said: “No, we go into every match looking for a win.

    “Just look what happened last year, we lost out against the Force and the Chiefs away from home – two games that people would have expected us to win – so targeting specific games can be detrimental to our campaign.”

    The Sharks are still waiting on their new Tongan signing, Epi Taione, to arrive in Durban.

    Plumtree says that they are expecting him sometime in February, but wasn’t sure of exactly when the big Tongan would touch down in South Africa.

  • Comment 9, posted at 13.02.08 07:50:20 by Charlie Reply
  • Well, if he doesn’t play, we have Frans at 10 and Stefan at 15.

    Worse things have happened!

  • Comment 10, posted at 13.02.08 09:24:35 by robdylan Reply
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