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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Alberts gets his chance against Cheetahs



Springbok utility forward Willem Alberts has been thrown a lifeline by Sharks coach John Plumtree ahead of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Alberts, who was a fixture in the Springbok playing squad last year, mostly as an impact substitute, has been completely ignored over the past few weeks after an indifferent start to the 2012 season. However, with just a few weeks remaining until new Bok coach chooses his squad for the series against England, Alberts has been given a small opportunity to show that he can get back to the form that made him one of the most influential forwards in the competition in the early stages of last year.

Alberts has been included as one of the reserves at the expense of young Pieter-Steph du Toit for the trip to Bloemfontein, a move that has been described as rotational. However, with no other lock named on the bench, it looks as though Alberts will be covering second row, something that might enhance his chances of being selected into the Bok squad as he impressed the management with his potential to play both in last year’s World Cup and the Boks may have as much of a crisis at lock by the time the international season arrives as they currently do at No 7 flank.

It is in the latter position though that Alberts must still be in the frame for Bok selection, as there are three frontline players in that position -- Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Jacques Potgieter -- currently out injured. Alberts’s Sharks teammate Marcel Coetzee, relatively new to senior rugby, must be seen as the front-runner at present for the No 7 jersey.

The recall of Alberts after a two game spell on the sidelines is one of two changes to the Sharks match 22 for Bloemfontein. In the other change, the only one to the starting team, Riaan Viljoen returns at fullback for the injured Louis Ludik.

Although forced by injury, this last one might prove fortuitous for the Sharks as the prodigious distance Viljoen can attain with his field kicking boot, as well as when dropping for goal, becomes even more valuable at altitude.

Sharks team: Riaan Viljoen, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Tim Whitehead, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (capt), Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst, Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski, Frederic Michalak, Meyer Bosman.

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