The Coenie experiment continues

Arguably a failed experiment at national level, director of rugby Gary Gold seems set to continue with the experiment that sees Coenie Oosthuizen selected at tighthead for the Sharks game against Toulon on Friday.

Springbok fly-half Pat Lambie will captain the side in their pre-season friendly that, sadly, will not be shown on television here in South Africa.

Lambie is part of a strong starting XV which includes Joe Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane, Cobus Reinach and Tendai Mtawarira. Former Toulon scrum-half Michael Claassens is named amongst the replacements.

It is of interest to see Oosthuizen, a new recruit in Durban, selected at tighthead ahead of journeyman Lourens Adriaanse. Gold no doubt sees the former Cheetahs prop as his long term solution given the gap left by Springbok tighthead, Jannie du Plessis, now plying his trade in France.

Not especially successful at national level, where former coach Heyneke Meyer seemed almost obsessed with turning the bullocking loosehead into a tighthead, despite the plethora of SA based talent like Vincent Koch and Julian Redelinghuys, it will be interesting to see how Oosthuizen goes in a strong Sharks pack.

It would be safe to say that when used at tighthead for the Cheetahs last year, Oosthuizen was not especially stellar in a scrum that failed to dominate.

“This weekend’s game is a nice opportunity to test ourselves and see how far we’ve come, with what’s been quite a lengthy pre-season. We’ve selected a strong side against what should be a good Toulon team,” said Gold.

“It’s a great opportunity for youngsters such as Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez to get their first start in the Super Rugby squad.

“The guys are really excited and I know that we will be a bit rusty in comparison to a Toulon team that are mid-season and have been playing together for a few months, but’s that the type of challenge we wanted.”

Sharks: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Pat Lambie (c), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Dave McDuling, 21 Hyron Andrews, 22 Stefan Ungerer, 23 Michael Claassens, 24 Garth April, 25 Heimar Williams, 26 Johan Deysel, 27 Wandile Mjekevu, 28 S’bura Sithole

Date: Friday, February 5
Venue: Stade Félix Mayol
Kick-off: 20:30 local (19:30 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz

-Vodacom Rugby staff writer

- Tank Lanning