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Sharks bench Frans Steyn, Ryan Kankowski
ESPN Staff
March 21, 2013
South Africa's Francois Steyn takes the ball into contact, South Africa v Argentina, The Rugby Championship, Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa, August 18, 2012
The Sharks coaching staff believe Springboks star Frans Steyn needs to lose weight to regain full form © PA Photos
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Teams: Sharks | South Africa

John Plumtree has benched Sharks stars Frans Steyn, Ryan Kankowski and Jannie du Plessis among nine changes to the side beaten so badly by the Brumbies in Super Rugby round five, the coach seeking to reinvigorate the team to face Melbourne Rebels.

Second-rower Pieter-Steph du Toit and hooker Kyle Cooper, meanwhile, have been rewarded for impressive contributions off the bench against the Brumbies.

"There have been changes because of what I saw as a poor performance [against the Brumbies],' Plumtree said."Meyer Bosman deserves an opportunity and we've included him at inside centre so that we can take Frans Steyn out to give him quite a big week of conditioning."

The Sharks are moving to strip weight from Steyn, who is back in Super Rugby after a long absence because he was in France, and who is also coming back from an extended injury lay-off last season. The Sharks staff believe Steyn's weight is impacting his performances adversely, but still he has been named on the bench.

Du Plessis was been dropped to the bench for reasons other than form. "Jannie has a bit of a knee injury and his wife is about to have a baby, he's had a difficult week, so we are giving Wiehahn Herbst a chance to start," Plumtree said.

"Jacques Botes has been in good form [as a replacement] so he gets a chance to start this week, and Ryan gets a rest. The same with Craig Burden. Those players can show me what they can do by playing off the bench."

Sharks: Louis Ludik; JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo; Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach; Keegan Daniel (captain), Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes; Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit; Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper, Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: Craig Burden Jannie du Plessis, Jandre Marais, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Frans Steyn, Riaan Viljoen.

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