Sharks look to continue dominance
April 2, 2009
JP Pietersen is a doubt for the Super 14 leaders the Sharks this weekend © Getty Images
It's Round Eight of the Super 14 and as the teams start positioning themselves for the run-up to the playoffs we bring you the latest team news from each of this weekend's match-ups.
The action kicked off on Friday with the Crusaders defeating the Bulls 16-13 in Christchurch to further dent the South African's charge at the top. In Perth, the Reds were blown away 39-7 buy the Force. Younge centre James O'Connor was instrumental, scoring the opener.
The Cheetahs' talismanic skipper Juan Smith returns on the bench against the Brumbies in Bloemfontein on Saturday. He's been out for a month with concussion and replaces Francois Uys on the flank. In the only other change from last week Jongi Nokwe comes onto the wing in the place of Fabian Juries.
Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock returns to the Brumbies' side. He was ruled out of last weekend's loss to the Sharks after sustaining a thigh injury during the side's loss to the Lions a fortnight ago. He resumes his role at outside centre and will be accompanied in the midfield by Tyrone Smith, who starts at inside centre. Gene Fairbanks, who played inside centre against the Sharks, drops to the bench. [Teams]
In the last game of what should be an action-packed weekend the table-topping Sharks welcome the Hurricanes to Kings Park on Saturday. Three points clear at the top and with a game in hand, the tournament's joint-leading try scorer JP Pietersen is coach John Plumtree's biggest injury worry. Pietersen is bracketed at wing with Luzuko Vulindlu, should he not recover in time for the game. In the only other change John Smit and Jannie du Plessis swap positions with Smit reverting to tighthead prop.
Injuries to Scott Waldrom and Hosea Gear have necessitated coach Colin Cooper to call up New Zealand Sevens star Victor Vito for the Hurricanes who had a bye last week. [Teams]
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup