Sharks make four changes for clash with WP
The Sharks have made four changes to their starting XV for their top-of-the-table Currie Cup clash with Western Province in Durban on Saturday.
The team have also confirmed that Super Rugby captain Keegan Daniel will take over the on-field leadership.
The most notable alteration sees the return of Tim Whitehead at centre after six weeks out with a broken hand, although his inclusion is at the expense of promising midfielder Paul Jordaan, ruled out earlier in the week due to a facial injury.
“Tim Whitehead is back and that’s good news,” coach John Plumtree said on Thursday.
“He’s built a bit of extra muscle in the time he had off, he’s worked hard to get back and it was almost like a nice little pre-season break for him.” Daniel takes over the captaincy from Jean Deysel, appointed to lead the team at the start of the competition due to the regular skipper’s national selection. He has since been dropped by the Springboks.
“The decision is one made for the team as well as for Jean Deysel’s benefit,” Plumtree said.
“Because of the way we have to rehab his body after each game with the high impact role he plays, with the number of collisions he is involved in, he often misses team work which has to happen in the time that we are looking after his body.
“For that reason, my decision has gone back to having Keegan as the captain. There is no other reason behind this.
“Keegan is more than happy to captain the side — he is the Super Rugby captain — and that change will be from this weekend.” Among the other changes to the starting team, there are two in the backline where Springbok scrumhalf Charl McLeod has been dropped to the bench along with S’bura Sithole, with Cobus Reinach and Rosko Specman drafted in.
The only other change sees new recruit and veteran hooker Pieter Dixon making his first start ahead of Monde Hadebe.
The Sharks have beaten their Cape rivals in their last two meetings — the Super Rugby semi-final in July and their first-round Currie Cup match at Newlands.
“I think they have progressed a lot since that first round,” Plumtree said.
“Everyone has got better since then but it’s still tricky to pick the winners and the losers in this competition.
“Province have their strengths and so do we. It will be a tough contest.”
Sharks team: Louis Ludik, Odwa Ndungane, Tim Whitehead, Meyer Bosman, Rosko Specman, Riaan Viljoen, Cobus Reinach, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel (captain), Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Jandre Marais, Wiehahn Herbst, Pieter Dixon, Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Julian Redelinghuys, Peet Marais, Brynard Stander, Charl McLeod, Marius Joubert, S’bura Sithole.