Michalak starts for Sharks
June 16, 2011
Michalak came off the bench for the Sharks last weekend against the Lions © Getty Images
Former French international Frederic Michalak has been handed the Sharks' No.10 shirt for their Super Rugby showdown with the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
The 28-year-old, capped 54 times by Les Bleus, will be making his first start since re-joining the Durban-based franchise from Toulouse earlier this month with Patrick Lambie switching to fullback. Michalak made his comeback for the Sharks off the bench last weekend against the Lions in their 30-all draw and is now charged with keeping his side's play-off hopes alive at Loftus Versfeld.
The Sharks have one foot in the knock out stages in the 6th and final play-off place, but with the Waratahs three points behind, the Australian side could leapfrog either the Sharks or the Bulls into the knock-out stages. But regardless of all permutations, Sharks coach John Plumtree is not underestimating the threat of the Bulls.
"We have plenty to lose and don't want to be knocked out of this competition," Plumtree said. "We do want to worry about the Brumbies-Waratahs score, although I guess we will keep a close eye on it. We'll know what we need to do before the game. From the Bulls' perspective, there is a lot of emotion, a few of their guys having their last game. But we're a proud bunch of guys; we don't want to go up there and roll over and die for the Bulls. We want to play some good rugby, that's our aim.
"We need to get our strategy right and make sure that everything else in terms of attitude and commitment is there and we can give them a good go. They're a great side with some great leaders and they've found some real momentum. Their confidence would have been boosted after beating the Stormers in Cape Town and they have got plenty to play for this week which will spur them on. And it's the same with us."
Other changes in the Sharks line-up see Jannie du Plessis returning to the starting XV at the expense of Eugene van Staden. Elsewhere, Alastair Hargreaves comes in to the side in place of injured Steven Sykes and Ross Skeate comes on to the bench. Jean Deysel will start in the back-row alongside Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin