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Sharks strengthened further

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 28 Apr 2015 at 09:28
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

As anticipated, the Sharks are expected to welcome yet more first team regulars back into their side for this weekend’s opening tour match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The Sharks team picked to play the Lions in Johannesburg three weeks ago was probably the weakest (on paper) selection they’ve fielded this year. Ironically enough, that selection delivered perhaps the most compelling performance we’ve seen so far, despite not winning the game. While Bok props Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis returned to the fray for the match against the Bulls, a palpable lack of proven regulars in the side appeared to be a contributing factor to another loss.

We’ve not really look much at injuries and suspensions as a key reason for the Sharks’ loss of form this year – understandably it’s not an area the coaches wish to dwell on – but I think it’s reasonable to assume that the Sharks senior players have a fair amount to contribute and that their efforts for the remainder of the season will be key to salvaging some pride for the team. Bismarck du Plessis, JP Pietersen and Stephan Lewies are the three players who come back into the selection mix for Friday’s game, with Frans Steyn available for the following games on tour once his suspension has run its course.

While it’s fairly safe to assume that du Plessis will start at hooker (although less so to presume he’ll take the captain’s armband from Marco Wentzel), it remains to be seen how (or if) Lewies and Pietersen are to be used. With Etienne Oosthuizen needed to cover the back row, the coaches could perhaps be tempted to pick Lewies, with his good tight game and excellent lineout skills, in the number 4 jersey to compensate for the lack of lineout prowess in the loose trio.

Pietersen should be expected to come in to start, if not at outside centre, then at right wing with S’bura Sithole moving inwards.

The Sharks are currently based in Coogee, Sydney. They will travel to Dunedin on Wednesday.


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