The Sharks are experimenting with Springbok flyer JP Pietersen at outside centre in what just might be a stroke of genius ahead of the new Super Rugby season.
Pietersen began his career in the Shark Tank at fullback before switching to the wing, where he has been excellent for both the Durban-based side and the Springboks, but he could now be set to begin a new chapter in his career.
Sharks coach John Plumtree boldly picked Pietersen at outside centre for an internal trial match last weekend, and has again handed him the No.13 jersey for this weekend's pre-season clash with Boland.
"It's a bit of an experiment and it all depends on the coaches, but I've been given the chance to play outside centre," Pietersen told this website in an exclusive interview.
"I've only played one trial match there so far, so there is nothing to get excited about yet. We'll see if the coach decides to experiment more in the future.
"I don't want to be hard or stubborn and you never know what the future is so I'll play wherever the coaches want me.
"If we don't try I'll never know if I can play centre, and it's a new challenge so I'm looking forward to taking it step by step."
The 25-year-old partnered Meyer Bosman last weekend, but will be given the chance to forge a midfield partnership with new Sharks recruit Tim Whitehead against Boland.
The Sharks have a wealth of talent available out wide, with Odwa Ndungane, Lwazi Mvovo, Louis Ludik and Sibusiso Sithole all waiting in the wings, which means a move infield for Pietersen could be inspired.
Pietersen is eager to keep learning where he can improve his game, but the experienced Bok - who has been playing Test rugby since 2006 - also has the added responsibility of passing on advice to youngsters like Mvovo (already a capped Bok) and SA Sevens ace Sithole.
"Our Sharks team is like a family so we all help each other and everyone in the team is always keen to help or to listen to somebody else," he explained. "It's not like I'm the older guy helping the youngsters now, because you can also learn from them and they keep you on your toes."
And whether he features at centre, wing or fullback, Pietersen - already the veteran of 42 Test caps - wants to play his role in helping the Sharks hunt down some elusive Super Rugby silverware.
"As a Sharks team the one thing we haven't won is a Super Rugby competition, so that's on our mind and we're going to give it our all this season."
By Timmy Hancox
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