Sharks’ stars to run with Wildebeest

Sharks coach Dick Muir will give a number of his Super 14 stars, who are in desperate need of game time, a run with the Wildebeest team when they face Boland in a Vodacom Cup Round One match in Durban on Friday.

The Wildebeest, essentially the Sharks’ second string XV, were beaten in the Final of the Vodacom Cup by the Falcons last year.

They are likely to get their 2007 campaign off to a flying start with forwards like Bobby Skinstad, Keegan Daniel, Johan Ackermann, Albert van den Berg and Skipper Badenhorst all in the starting XV.

In the backline big-name stars include Sevens Springbok Dusty Noble, forgotten 15-man Bok Gcobani Bobo, Andries Strauss and another forgotten Bok in Henno Mentz.

Some of these players have just come back from injury and need to game time to get them up to speed for Super 14 action.

Skinstad, who joined the Sharks at the beginning of the season after playing mostly social rugby in England for the past three years, played 10 minutes in his debut match for the Sharks – against the Highlanders last week. He played a full game for the Wildebeest before that and can clearly do with more time on the park.

Ackermann is being nursed back to full fitness from injury, while Van den Berg and Badenhorst have only had limited game time for the Sharks in the first three rounds of the Super 14.

* Other interesting Vodacom Cup selection news is that nine players will make their debut for the Golden Lions, when they face the Pumas in Witbank on Saturday. But there is no place for Springbok Solly Tyibilika, who has been axed from the match-day 22 after failing to turn up for training.

Tyibilika has been on a slippery slope to rugby oblivion since being dropped from the Springbok Tri-Nations squad last year – failing to get regular game time at the Sharks and then signing with the Lions this year. But poor discipline and bad conditioning saw him being dropped to the Vodacom Cup team to bring him up to speed.

Now it appears his discipline has seen him slip further down the pecking order.

Another Springbok aced from the Super 14 squad because of a lack of fitness and poor form is prop Lawrence Sephaka. He will start at loosehead prop against the Pumas.

The Lions team will be captained by Roland Bernard, one of the players on the fringe of Super 14 selection.

* The Pumas team, to face the Lions, include a number of players from the Golden Lions region who have joined the Witbank outfit. But the most noteworthy selection is the inclusion of former Zimbabwean fly-half Kennedy Tsimba – another player whose once promising career appears to be on the slide.

He left the Cheetahs for the Bulls last year, but a combination of injuries and a lock of form saw him fall out of favour. He has joined the Pumas in the hope of rekindling his career.

Players formerly from the Lions region include Jiffy Lamprecht and Riaan Kruger.

The team is being coached by former Springbok great Chester Williams and like most new brooms he has swept clean – fielding a team barely recognisable from last year’s struggling outfit.

Available Vodacom Cup teams:

Wildebeest: 15 Dusty Noble, 14 Craig Burden, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Henno Mentz, 10 Riaan Swanepoel, 9 Sandile Nxumalo, 8 Guthrie Hall, 7 Bobby Skinstad, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Johan Ackermann, 4 Albert van den Berg, 3 Robbie Harris, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Jody Jenneker, 17 Sangoni Mxoli, 18 Nardus Wessels, 19 Wouter Moore, 20 Charles Mdaweni, 21 Scott Spedding, 22 Howard Noble

Golden Lions: 15 Luther Marais, 14 Colin Lloyd, 13 Edrick van Tonder, 12 Warren van Rooyen, 11 Randall April, 10 Clinton de Klerk, 9 Dave von Hoesslin, 8 Jean Deysel, 7 Francois Uys, 6 Roland Bernard (c), 5 Frikkie Spies, 4 Alten Hulme, 3 Dewald Coetzee, 2 Divan Kapp, 1 Lawrence Sephaka.

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