Smit may star at hooker for the Sharks

John Smit back at hooker? That could be the enforced surprise the Sharks come up with for Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal against the Free State Cheetahs in Durban.

The Springbok captain had stated he now wants to concentrate on tighthead, where he is preferred in the Tests by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers—but Sharks coach John Plumtree might have no other option than to persuade Smit to switch to the middle of the scrum after Sharks replacement hooker Craig Burden was shown up in the set pieces against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.

Burden, who moved from centre to hooker and always impresses with his mobility, replaced Springbok Bismarck du Plessis who injured his ribs on Saturday. Burden duly scored his two tries but didn’t convince with his lineout throwing and also his scrummaging.

Granted, he was up against one of the better coached front rows in the Currie Cup with ex-Bok Dawie Theron as coach, but on Saturday he will have an even more formidable task against the Free State who have improved their already impressive scrummaging with the advent of Springbok great Os du Randt as scrum coach.

The Sharks’ front row woes do not end there. Springbok loosehead prop Beast Mtawarira aggravated a shoulder injury sustained on the recent Tri-Nations tour and must be doubtful for Saturday.

If Bismarck du Plessis can’t play, Smit could be the man to take over at hooker, with World Cup Springbok Jannie du Plessis getting a rather rare start at tighthead in Smit’s place.
Deon Carstens is likely to take over at loosehead if the Beast can’t play.

Should Bismarck du Plessis be fit and Mtawarira not, Smit might even be switched to loosehead where he started his international career at junior level.—Sapa

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