Lewies gets to make the 'big calls'

Thu, 13 Mar 2014 14:42
Large stephan lewies sharks Large jake white sharks media Large pieter steph du toit2 shark

Stephan Lewies may be a three-match rookie, but he will have some big calls to make when the Sharks play the Reds on Saturday.

Stephan Lewies may be a three-match rookie, but he will have some big calls to make when the Sharks play the Reds in Durban on Saturday.

The 22-year Lewies, who made all three his Super Rugby appearances off the bench for the Sharks this year, was promoted to the starting XV on Thursday - after Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit took a blow to the knee in a training ground mishap earlier in the day.

Now Lewies, who is actually seven months older than the two-times capped Bok Du Toit, will square up to Wallaby veteran James Horwill.

Horwill, 28, is regarded as one of the world's foremost line-out exponents and will bring with him the experience of 90-odd Reds caps and 35 Tests for Australia.

And it is in the line-outs where Lewies will have some big calls to make.

Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White, addressing a media briefing after confirming Du Toit's withdrawal, revealed that Lewies is being groomed as a No.5 lock that can take control of the line-outs.

He spoke of the "pace and power" of the young Lewies, who has impressed in his second-half cameos so far.

However, it is in the line-outs where they are working on bringing the talented second row forward up to par.

"We're in the process now - not only here [at the Sharks], but throughout South Africa - of trying to groom callers in line-outs," White told the media scrum.

"After Victor Matfield retired [at the end of 2011 and before his return this year], there was a shortage of guys who could call and jump in the line-out.

"Now, to have two players like that in Stephan and Pieter-Steph in that role is a real bonus for us.

"So the loss of Pieter-Steph with a bang on the knee opens the door for another opportunity to someone else, but we're replacing like for like."

White has yet to make a call on who will replace Lewies on the bench, saying that they must make sure they "get the balance right".

White also spoke of the decision to bring Springbok utility back JP Pietersen straight into the starting XV, after he only arrived back from Japan on Tuesday this week.

"It wasn't ideal that we lost Paul [Jordaan, knee injury] and Odwa [Ndungane, his father passed away] in same week," White said.

"We would have liked to have blooded him [Pietersen] off the bench and get a feel for it, but it's his 99th Super Rugby game. He has been around, he's scored 33 Super Rugby tries - so to get his experience and that sort of value into a game against a  team like the Reds is obviously massive for us."

White added that while Pietersen can play at outside centre, they opted to play him in his most favoured position at wing.

"I'm really looking forward to watching S'bura [Sibusiso Sithole] at No.13.

"I think there is a position in South Africa at No.13 that's available. I have full faith in him as a Sevens player and a guy with the ability to play at outside centre.

"Often you try hide guys on the wing. I think he has a lot of attributes at 13 that are good for us.

"He's very strong on his feet, has an unbelievable hand-off, he likes to run with the ball and he likes to finish. Some people think finishers have to be on the wing.

Defensively, he might not be used to the position, but he can tackle.

"The reality is that the more opportunities he gets in that position the better he will become.

"[World Cup-winning Bok] Jaque Fourie played fullback at school, but ended up playing 69 Tests at outside centre and a few at wing.  

"There is nothing wrong with starting him at No.13 at a provincial level, bringing those attributes to our game.

"JP, Lwazi [Mvovo] and S'bura bring a lot of pace. S'bura is the quickest player in the squad.

"If you're S'bura you understand that at No.10 you have a Springbok, No.12 is [a Bok], and both wings are [internationals]. You're fitting in between guys with Test experience and they will assist him to understand what he needs to do.

"And he's playing [against] a guy who was at school two years ago, he's marking a player who has just turned 20. I'm sure he will handle himself adequately."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
Sat, 03 June 2017
Crusaders v Highlanders 02h35 Christchurch
Chiefs v Waratahs 05h05 Hamilton
NZ Barbarians v B&I Lions 07h35 Toll Stadium
Brumbies v Rebels 09h45 Canberra
Force v Hurricanes 11h35 Perth
Sun, 04 June 2017
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v France U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Australia U20 v Samoa U20 09h30 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
England U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 54 | 10
Sat, 27 May 2017
Jaguares v Brumbies 15 | 39
Munster v Scarlets 22 | 46
Sharks v Stormers 22 | 10
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 20 | 23
Bulls v Hurricanes 20 | 34
Rebels v Crusaders 19 | 41
Highlanders v Waratahs 44 | 28
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 7 | 47
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 12 5 0 7 28
Waratahs 12 4 0 8 19
Force 12 4 0 8 17
Reds 12 3 0 9 16
Rebels 12 1 1 10 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 13 13 0 0 59
Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 48
Highlanders 13 10 0 3 45
Chiefs 12 9 1 2 45
Blues 13 6 1 6 33
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 0 5 34
Cheetahs 13 3 0 10 16
Bulls 12 3 0 9 15
Sunwolves 12 1 0 11 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 12 0 1 56
Sharks 13 9 1 3 42
Jaguares 12 5 0 7 24
Kings 12 4 0 8 19