Steyn to skipper Sharks
Francois Steyn will captain the Sharks' opening warm-up match on Friday against the Leopards in Pietermaritzburg.
Capped 56 times for the Sharks before he left for France, Steyn returned to South Africa last year and played two Super Rugby matches for the Durban-based franchise before the knock-out rounds.
He has also represented South Africa on over 50 occasions, and now finds himself a fairly senior player whose maturity and expected match requirements have pointed to him as a natural leader in the team.
With last year’s vice-captain Bismarck du Plessis still in rehab for a knee injury and expected to miss the first few rounds of Super Rugby, it makes a lot of sense to have Steyn deputise for team captain Keegan Daniel.
“Frans Steyn is going to captain the team because Keegan is going to play off the bench in our warm-up game this Friday,” explained coach John Plumtree.
“I saw him as good back up to Keegan and it’s an opportunity for him to grow his leadership. I’ve noticed a big difference in him in terms of his personality and character since he’s come back from France. The players have a lot of respect for him as an individual and as a player.
“He’s a very competitive person, he doesn’t like to come second in anything he does and he’s probably going to be a regular starter.”
The Sharks side to play the Leopards is an interesting mix of new and old, with Franco van der Merwe getting a run for his new team together with the likes of regular campaigners in Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane all starting, with plenty of experience to come off the bench.
The Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ngungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Fracois Steyn (c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel,6 Jacques Botes,5 Franco van der Merwe,4 Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Paul Jordaan, 24 Louis Ludik
Date: Friday, Febraury 8
Venue: Woodburn Stadium, Pietermaritzburg
Referee: Stuart Berry