Muir drops Pietersen for Murray


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Sharks coach Dick Muir will make one change for Friday’s match against the Highlanders in Dunedin by dropping left wing JP Pietersen for Waylon Murray.

Last season Pietersen was the Super 14’s top try scorer with 11 tries in the round robin matches and 13 including the play offs.

This year however he has not scored a try in seven matches.

“JP has not been in good form,” Muir told the Pretoria News after his team had trained at the Wakatipu Rugby Club in Queenstown.

Veteran AJ Venter will have to wait for at least another week before a return to the starting line-up as Muir and forwards coach John Plumtree have opted to keep the forwards in tact from last week.

For the rest, Sharks coach Dick Muir has stuck with the side that were involved in the lucky 13-all draw against the Hurricanes when they were no doubt saved by a referee’s call.

Steyn, in the unaccustomed position of outside centre, had little opportunity to impress last weekend – and the Sharks backs have still not been in full stride because of the wet ball in Durban’s humidity or rain in their away matches.

With a five/two bench, Muir is bound to use his forwards to put the Highlanders under the cosh.

They’re a very average side, and a bonus-point win will be the aim of the Sharks – but it will be the way in which they achieve it more than the mere five points that will be of importance.

Muir will be hoping that Steyn loses less ball in contact situations and makes less errors of judgement – and perhaps that’s why he was moved further away from the controlling positions of inside centre and flyhalf.

He will also hope for greater sharpness from Ruan Pienaar who is now constantly kept on his toes by the lively Rory Kockott. French flyhalf Frederick Michalak’s liveliness and especially a dry ground is needed to ignited the backline – although this is something that Kockott has achieved every time he has played, whether starting or as a replacement.

Up to now the Sharks have been somewhat unconvincing and somewhat lucky on a few occasions. They have to start putting it together now with the run-in to the play-offs just a few matches away.

Sharks Team

15-1 : Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Francois Steyn, Bradley Barritt, Waylon Murray, Fred Michalak, Ruan Pienaar, Ryan Kankowski, Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Johann Muller (captain), Steven Sykes, BJ Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.

Reserves: Craig Burden, Deon Carstens, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg, AJ Venter, Rory Kockott, Adrian Jacobs.



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