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Steyn takes centre stage

Wed, 04 Jul 2012 15:49
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World Cup-winning Springbok utility back Frans Steyn will make his first appearance in a Sharks jersey - since 2009 - on Friday.

It was confirmed that Steyn, who made 56 appearances for the Durban-based franchise before heading overseas three years ago, will play at inside centre in a crunch Super Rugby match against the Bulls.

While the return of the powerful Bok will be celebrated, two other of the Sharks' many internationals have been ruled out.

The Sharks delayed naming their team until after Wednesday's afternoon training session to allow for fitness tests on Patrick Lambie (fullback/flyhalf) and loose forward Willem Alberts.

However, both have been ruled out of the encounter with the visitors from Pretoria after suffering injuries in the Springboks' 2-0 series win over England.

Alberts suffered a knee injury during the second Test against England in Johannesburg last month and Lambie injured his ankle in the same match.

But even without Lambie, the Sharks will still field a very impressive backline - with just two non-internationals in the mix.

French international Fred Michalak, fresh off a great return to Test rugby, will partner Charl McLeod at halfback. Steyn will be partnered in the midfield by Tim Whitehead (who is uncapped). Bok wingers Lwazi Mvovo and JP Pietersen and the uncapped Louis Ludik complete the backline.

Ryan Kankowski's freshness, hunger and admirable performance in the final Test against England has seen him come into the starting line-up - with new Bok Marcell Coetzee and captain Keegan Daniel completing the loose forward combination.

In the second row, the loss of Steven Sykes to injury opens the door for Baby Bok Pieter-Steph du Toit to gain his first start - having played off the bench on four previous occasions. He will partner Anton Bresler.

There is no change to the preferred Sharks' all-Springbok front row of Beast Mtawarira, along with brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandré Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Date: Friday, July 6
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Tiaan Jonker (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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