Smit to start at tighthead

John Smit has been given a chance to prove himself in the No 3 jersey when the Sharks take on the Reds on Saturday.

Jannie du Plessis moves to the bench due to Smit’s promotion, where he forms the likely first-choice Bok front row with Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira.

It is understood that Smit will face all the Australian teams from the tighthead berth in order to prepare himself for the more strenuous test of the British & Irish Lions.

Smit’s inclusion is the only change to the starting XV that disposed of the Blues 35-31, with lock Albert van den Berg replacing Alistair Hargreaves on the bench, who flew back to Durban after suffering an ankle injury.

The backline remains unchanged for the fifth game in succession.

The Sharks have only won one of their last 14 matches in Australia – a 59-16 hammering of the Reds two years ago – while coach John Plumtree said his charges will not be complacent against the same team.

“The players can’t get ahead of themselves, no-one can,” said Plumtree. “The history of the Super 14 shows that there is always an upset and the Reds have managed to upset the Crusaders the last couple of times the Crusaders have been here and we all know what a champion side they are.

“So it’s really important that everyone keeps their feet on the ground. Like a team has to move on from a loss, so we have to move on from a win, that’s really important I believe.

“Especially when you have the tough intensity of the rugby we had in New Zealand; so it is vitally important that we knuckle down and get our strategy right and attitudes are excellent when we go up there.”

Sharks – Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (C), Steven Sykes, John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.
Subs:  Deon Carstens, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg, Skholiwe Ndlovu, Ross Cronje, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindlu.