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Ton up for Pietersen

Thu, 20 Mar 2014 07:00
Pietersen-mvovo-sithole
Swiel, Esterhuizen in line for debuts
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JP Pietersen will make his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the Sharks when he starts against the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.
 
Since making his Super Rugby debut in 2006, the 51-cap Springbok has bagged 33 tries in 99 games and has been a vital member of the Sharks squad for some time.
 
"It is a big achievement for a guy that plays 100 times for his franchise," Director of Rugby Jake White said. 
 
"I have no doubt that it’s not only what he brings on the field, but also what he brings to the rest of the group off the field. 
 
"I’m sure it will be a special occasion for him. 
 
"I have no doubt [about] JP, being as popular a player as he is to this group, [that] a lot of the players will want to do well for him as well."
 
White has made just two changes to the squad that defeated the Reds 35-20 last week, both on the replacements bench.
 
Heimar Williams drops down to the Sharks Vodacom Cup squad to get more game time and Jaco van Tonder drops out of the matchday 23.
 
They are replaced by two youngsters - both in line to make their Super Rugby debuts.
 
20-year-old flyhalf Tim Swiel takes a spot on the bench and is joined by 19-year-old centre Andre Esterhuizen
 
The Bulls have a formidable record at Loftus and like the Sharks are unbeaten at home this season.
 
Much rests on the outcome of Saturday’s derby clash as the battle for the South African Conference hots up.
 
White is under no illusions about the challenge his side will face, despite seeing off the Bulls 31-16 in the first week of this year's competition.
 
"This is a huge game, it’s at Loftus and the Bulls have an unbelievable record at that stadium and they’ve won the championship three times, so we’re under no false illusions that this isn’t going to be a tough away fixture for us. 
 
"It’s a derby game as well and we know it’s going to be big," White added.
 
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Andre Esterhuizen.
 
Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommenstein (South Africa)
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