Steyn in pivotal role for Sharks

Springbok star Francois Steyn will get his first taste of Super 14 rugby as a fly-half, when he wears the number 10 jersey for the Sharks against the Highlanders in Durban on Saturday.

Steyn, who started the first two rounds of the Sharks’ 2007 Super 14 campaign on the wing, moves to fly-half in the place of veteran Butch James.

Sharks coach Dick Muir has decided to “rest” Springboks John Smit and Butch James for the encounter with the struggling New Zealand franchise.

Steyn, the find of South Africa’s year-end tour to England and Ireland in 2006, will no doubt play a pivotal role in the Sharks’ quest to retain their first place on the standings.

Overall the Sharks squad shows six changes – including a couple of positional switches – from that which beat the Waratahs 22-9 last week.

Bismarck du Plessis takes over at hooker from the Bok and Sharks captain, Smit. AJ Venter takes over the Sharks’ captaincy for the game against the Highlanders.

Steyn, as was expected, takes up the role of fly-half from James. Steyn played most of the 2006 Currie Cup season at fly-half and most pundits agree that this is his best position.

He will be partnered at halfback by Ruan Pienaar, who has recovered from injury and comes in at scrum-half for Rory Kockott.

Waylon Murray, having recovered from his injury, takes over the right wing spot vacated by Steyn’s switch to fly-half.

Squad rotation sees Jacques Botes gaining a breather, with Warren Britz taking over at flank.

Another player returning from injury is BJ Botha, who comes in at tighthead in the front row, with Deon Carstens moving to loosehead and Kees Lensing dropping down to the bench.

The other big news, of course, is the selection of former Springbok captain Bobby Skinstad, who will earn game time in the second half when he makes his eagerly-awaited return to top class rugby after an absence of more than three years.

15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Waylon Murray, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Bradley Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 AJ Venter (c), 6 Warren Britz, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Kees Lensing, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Bob Skinstad, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Butch James

Date: Saturday, 17 February
Venue: ABSA Stadium, Durban
Kick-off: 20.30 (18.30 GMT)
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: Geoff Acton (Australia), JC Fortuin (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

365 Digital

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