Du Plessis vs Polota-Nau

The battle between the two Test hookers will be crucial to the outcome of Saturday's Vodacom Super Rugby game between the Sharks and Waratahs, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Bismarck du Plessis showed in 2013 why he is considered the best hooker on the planet. He has continued to produce some powerful ball-carrying performances during the early stages of the 2014 Super Rugby competition, and remains a threat on the ground. Du Plessis is a fantastic scrummager, ball-carrier, and defender, but it's his poaching ability at the breakdown that often gives his side an edge.

The Sharks will certainly need Du Plessis to be on form when they host the Waratahs. Du Plessis will be up against another big man in Tatafu Polota-Nau. The Wallabies No 2 will provide a stern test for Du Plessis at scrum time, and is difficult to tackle once he builds up some momentum.

Where Polota-Nau is traditionally weak is at the lineout. His feeds to this set piece have been inconsistent in recent seasons, and the Sharks will surely look to capitalise on any errors this weekend.

That said, the Sharks' second-row stocks have been depleted, and Du Plessis won't have many experienced jumpers to aim at this Saturday. He is also coming off a disappointing lineout showing at Loftus Versfeld, where the great Victor Matfield orchestrated some important steals for the Bulls. Du Plessis will be looking to bounce back this weekend.

Photos: Steve Haag/Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli