Hernandez back to boost Sharks

Juan Martin Hernandez has recovered from an ankle injury and will start for the Sharks against Western Province at King’s Park on Saturday.

It will be the first time Hernandez is paired with scrumhalf Rory Kockott, and in theory the two should form a formidable halfback combination.

There’s also a new-look midfield, with Riaan Swanepoel and Andries Strauss, who replaces Springbok centre Waylon Murray, named in the run on side. Skipper Bardenhorst will earn his 50th cap for the Sharks.

The Sharks are hoping that Deon Carstens recovers from a knock, but Pat Cilliers has been bracketed at loosehead if Carstens fails to recover.

Coach John Plumtree was liberal in his praise of Province, who are the only side too have beaten the Sharks to date.

‘We have a lot of respect for this Province side, it’s loaded with talent,’ he told the Sharks’ official website.

‘They have a heavy forward pack which has scored something like nine tries from driving mauls, this team is quite well-balanced and they can compete against any team in this competition.

‘They’ll come here knowing they can beat us, the plus for us is that we’ve been playing well and are expecting a large crowd. The players look forward to these challenges so it’s not been hard from a coaching perspective to get the team up for this game.’

Plumtree added that he was pleased with the progress his side has made this season, particularly considering the number of Springboks they’ve lost.

‘We’re just wrapped with the way the team has been able to function without our Springboks, and we did it last year as well,’ he said.

‘Everyone is stepping up when they need to and the good thing is that we will be able to just filter the Boks back in if the team continues to function now, without having to rush them in.’

Sharks - 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Chris Jordaan, 13 Andries Strauss, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Juan Hernandez, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (c), 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Deon Carstens / Patric Cilliers
Subs - 16 Craig Burden, 17 Patric Cilliers / Deon Carstens, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Waylon Murray