Smit at hooker for Sharks against Stormers
February 12, 2009
Smit will be starting in the front row at Newlands on Saturday © Getty Images
Springbok captain John Smit has been named at hooker for the the Sharks' opening game of the 2009 Super 14 against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
Smit is expected to play primarily at tight head prop this season but injuries to Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck Du Plessis sees a reshuffle in the front row with Springboks Deon Carstens and Jannie Du Plessis being called in to replace them.
The Sharks' will feature an all-Springbok backline on Saturday except for scrumhalf Rory Kockott. Ruan Pienaar takes over the fly half duties this season from Freddie Michalak who has returned to Toulouse while Frans Steyn will play inside centre and is partnered by Adi Jacobs in midfield.
The Stormers have surpsrised by picking loose forward Nick Koster on the wing for his Super 14 debut to cover for an injury to Fijian Sireli Naqelevuki. Koster, who played for the Barbarians against Australia at Wembley in December, is seen as the one of the future stars of Springbok rugby but the Stormers coach Rassi Erasmus feels that he's got the all-round ability to excel on the wing as well.
"I think he's got everything to make it at wing and we have a bit of an injury problem with Sireli. He should now jump in and swim but I believe he can do it," said Erasmus.
"He has completely different skills (to Naqelevuki). He is less of a direct runner than Sireli and has other skills which we hope he will bring to the party on Saturday."
Duane Vermeleun starts at No.8 in his Stormers debut, Schalk Burger and Francois Louw complete the loose trio while Luke Watson is on the bench. Jean De Villiers captains the side while a familiar face to the Newlands crowd, Percy Montgomery, is among the replacements on his return to Cape Town after retiring from international rugby last year.
Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Tonderai Chavhanga, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (captain), Nick Koster, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, JD Moller
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw, AJ Venter, Luke Watson, Bolla Conradie, Joe Pietersen, Percy Montgomery
Sharks: Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Adi Jacobs, Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel, Johann Muller (captain), Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit, Deon Carstens
Replacements: Melusi Mthethwa, Bismarck du Plessis, Allistair Hargreaves, Jacques Botes, Ross Cronje, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindlu