Smit back to No 2

John Smit has taken Bismarck du Plessis’s place in a revamped Sharks front-row to face the Force.

Smit started at tighthead last week, but the all Springbok front three failed to impress against a weak Reds unit. Du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira drop to the bench, with Jannie du Plessis and Deon Carstens starting.

‘Bismarck has had every start on tour and I had always planned to start John at hooker against the Force,’ explained coach John Plumtree. ‘Jannie and Deon have been brought back after both were on the bench last week and it’s really just rotating those international props that I have.

‘Obviously Beast and Bismarck’s impact in the second half could be huge, crucial for us.’

Frans Steyn covers flyhalf due to Ruan Pienaar’s injury, which could keep him out for three games, with Riaan Swanepoel in the No 12 jersey for his first Super 14 start.

Plumtree admitted the 10-12 axis will have to be at its best to negate Matt Giteau’s influence.

‘We’ve got a lot of respect for them,’ said Plumtree. ‘They have the best tackle percentage of the competition, they are a very well-organised and structured side, they have probably the best 10 in world rugby at the moment so we are going to have to really lift our standards a long way up from the Reds game.

‘Defensively we are going to have to improve, we need to get our first line of defence really good, although our scramble has been outstanding,’ he said.

Monty Dumond will cover flyhalf from the bench, while loose forward Justin Downey replaces Skholiwe Ndlovu in the 22.

‘Justin’s been on tour for three weeks and hasn’t had an opportunity, so this match is just about giving him an opportunity.’

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