South Africa vs United States

Steyn set for leadership debut

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 14:18
Large francois steyn   patrick la Large franco van der merwe shark3 Large steyn sharks 630 Large franco van der merwe shark2 Large francois steyn   pat lambie

Francois Steyn has been handed the captaincy for the Sharks opening warm-up game against the Leopards in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

Francois Steyn has been handed the captaincy for the Sharks opening warm-up game against the Leopards on Friday.

The Sharks have had a fairly quiet build-up to the season and are only playing two pre-season fixtures before they head into their Super Rugby opener against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 23.

The centre has been selected by coach John Plumtree because he is one of the more experienced players in the side and it will be a good experience in a leadership role for him.

"Frans Steyn is going to captain the team because Keegan is going to play off the bench in our warm-up game this Friday.

"I saw him as good back up to Keegan and it’s an opportunity for him to grow his leadership. I've noticed a big difference in him in terms of his personality and character since he’s come back from France. The players have a lot of respect for him as an individual and as a player," Plumtree told the Sharks website.

"He’s a very competitive person, he doesn’t like to come second in anything he does and he’s probably going to be a regular starter," added the coach.

The Sharks have selected a strong side for Friday's fixture with no less than 14 player in the squad that were involved in the Super Rugby final last season.

The return of Tendai Mtawarira will be a significant boost for the Sharks and they will be hoping that he can go through 2013 with as fewer injury worries as possible.

The conundrum that Plumtree faces is in the midfield, and all of the potential centres are going to want to impress on Friday and try and stake a claim for what might only be the number 13 jersey.

Franco van der Merwe gets his first run in a Sharks jersey, next to the exciting Pieter-Steph Du Toit in the second row, and will add serious value for the Sharks at line-out time.

The bench is laden with experience and Plumtree will be grateful for the depth that he has in his squad because of the pressures of the long Super Rugby season.

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ngungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Fracois Steyn (Captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements - from: Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira, Jandre Marais, Anton Bresler, Keegan Daniel, Cobus Reinach, Meyer Bosman, Paul Jordaan, Louis Ludik.

Date: Friday, Febraury 8
Venue: Woodburn Stadium, Pietermaritzburg
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry

South Africa vs United States
sast: 17h45 | local: 19h45

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26