Muller confirmed as Sharks captain for 2009 Super 14

Johann Muller has been confirmed as captain of the Sharks for the upcoming 2009 Super 14 season.

Muller led the Sharks to their first Currie Cup title in years but his captaincy was in doubt as former Sharks captain John Smith returned from French club Clermont in the second half last year.

Smit returned to the Sharks after Springbok coach Peter de Villiers made it clear that only South Africa-based players would be considered for the Tests against the British and Irish Lions in June.

Smit retained the Springbok captaincy but Sharks coach John Plumtree decided it was best to stick with Muller for the sake of consistency.

“It was not an easy decision. I have huge respect for both of them. They are outstanding leaders,” Plumtree told The Mercury.

“The way to look at it is that John and Johann are close mates, and to an extent will lead together anyway.

“And it also gives John some freedom to concentrate on leading the Springboks in a very big year for them.”

Plumtree has created a strong leadership group and there is a core of senior players to assist Muller.

With strong and experienced leaders such as Smit, Stefan Terblanche, Jacques Botes, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg and Deon Carstens, Muller is well supported.

Muller turned 29 last week. Smit will turn 31 in April.

The Sharks, meanwhile, have arranged a friendly against the Mpumalanga Pumas to replace the cancelled match against the Cheetahs in Abu Dhabi.

The Cheetahs clash was called of due to financial reasons and it was hoped that the match would be rescheduled, but the Cheetahs elected for a gentle warm-up against neighbours Griquas in Kimberley.

“It is important to our preparations that we have this game, because the idea has always been that this first warm-up would be our opportunity to look at up-and-coming players,” Plumtree said.

“We want to have a good look at the fringe players, and see how they have progressed.”

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