Plumtree reshuffles his backline
Meyer Bosman is back in the position where he made his debut for the Springboks as one of Jake White’s surprise selections on the 2005 tour of Argentina, Wales and France.
The former Free Stater has played most of his rugby at inside centre since wearing the green and gold No 10 jersey in Cardiff and Paris nearly seven years ago, but Sharks coach John Plumtree has asked him to return to the pivot position for Friday night’s crucial Absa Currie Cup showdown with the Blue Bulls at Mr Price Kings Park.
By moving Meyer one position inside, Plumtree is able to accommodate Paul Jordaan back in the starting team, with Tim Whitehead shifting to the inside centre role that he fulfilled in the early parts of the Super Rugby season. Meyer at No 10 also means that Plumtree can retain the prodigious field kicking skills of Riaan Viljoen, who moves from flyhalf to fullback.
But Louis Ludik fans shouldn’t be alarmed by that -- your man is still there, only back at left wing, which was where he played in the Super Rugby semifinal against the Stormers, which was also a move designed to boost the Sharks’ field kicking game. Ludik replaces Lwazi Mvovo in the No 11 jersey, with the latter now back with the Boks.
Bosman’s ability to hit the advantage line coupled with the fullback's experience in the back three certainly gives the Sharks’ backline a very rounded look, with the Durban union becoming champions recently at being able to make substantial adaptations to game-plan to suit every situation.
Viljoen will blunt the Bulls’ kicking game, but there is also plenty of ability to run the ball at the Bulls once the Sharks get on top.
The wholesale reshuffles to the back division are not the only changes that Plumtree has made to his team. A Bok call has seen Craig Burden lost to the front-row, with Pieter Dixon slotting in as his replacement. Dixon made his first start for the Sharks in the recent match against Western Province but then lost out to Burden for last week’s game against the Lions in Johannesburg.
It’s interesting to note that Cobus Reinach continues to be the preferred choice at scrumhalf above Charl McLeod, which could be an indication that the youngster has become the first choice No 9 at the Sharks. He has certainly stood out in the past few games and he is one of the main reasons the Sharks should be pleased at the new talent that their Currie Cup campaign is unearthing.
This is a big game for the Sharks as a win will put them a touch away from securing a home semifinal, but a defeat could well see them drop to third behind WP, who host the Lions at Newlands on Saturday.
“There is not much in the log, and with two of our remaining three games at home, where we have a good record this year, we really want to start building momentum as we head into the knockouts,” said assistant coach Grant Bashford.
The Sharks scored a good win over WP the last time they played at home but that result was sandwiched in between two disappointing away losses to Griquas and to the Lions. The Sharks lost the first round game to the Bulls at Loftus.
Sharks team: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Louis Ludik, 10. Meyer Bosman, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 6.Jacques Botes, 5.Anton Bresler, 4.Steven Sykes, 3.Wiehahn Herbst, 2.Pieter Dixon, 1. Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16.Kyle Cooper, 17.Julian Redelinghuys, 18.Jandre Marais, 19.Lubalalo Mtembu, 20.Charl McLeod, 21.Marius Joubert, 22.S’bura Sithole.