Bismarck boost for the Sharks
The Sharks have been boosted by the clean bill of health given to Bismarck du Plessis after a fitness test on Thursday.
The Springbok hooker has been included in the starting team for Saturday’s crucial Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs, with the result of the game possibly determining what the Sharks should be aiming for when they come back from their bye in two weeks to start the second half of the competition.
Du Plessis flew home from the overseas tour before the final match against the Blues in order to be assessed, but while he reportedly started the week slowly, he showed sufficient readiness at Thursday’s final training session of the week for him to reclaim his No 2 jersey from Craig Burden.
The latter was outstanding against the Blues but few can match Du Plessis when it comes to the unique skill sets he brings to any team he plays for.
There are two other changes to the Sharks team, with both of them having a rotational look to them. Both come at loose-forward, with the impressive Marcell Coetzee starting off the bench this week in what can only really be an effort to give the No 6 flanker a rest while at the same time giving Jacques Botes an opportunity to start a game.
Botes will be playing his 96th Super Rugby game for the Sharks, so he brings plenty of experience to a unit which also welcomes back Willem Alberts, who sat out the first half hour against the Blues last week to enable the equally imposing Jean Deysel to wear the No 7 jersey.
SHARKS TEAM: Riaan Viljoen, Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen, Tim Whitehead, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (captain), Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Dale Chadwick. Replacements: Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Frederic Michalak, Meyer Bosman.