Alberts undergoes shoulder surgery as Sharks get a break

2011-11-12 00:00

WILLEM Alberts, the Springbok and Sharks backrow forward, has undergone shoulder surgery, but will be ready for the Super Rugby competition, which starts in February, with an away game to the Bulls at Loftus on February 24.

Alberts has battled with a shoulder injury for much of this year and took an extended break before returning to international rugby and making a bruising impact on the Rugby World Cup.

But, without the Springboks’ usual end-of-year tramp around Europe, Alberts has now had the opportunity to have the damage repaired.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl told the Weekend Witness that Alberts was recovering well.

“He and the other Sharks who were injured during the Currie Cup will all be ready for Super Rugby.”

Players who missed the end of the long season because of injury were scrumhalf Charl McLeod, centre Meyer Bosman and fullback Louis Ludik.

Since this year’s Super Rugby competition the Sharks have lost four players to European clubs.

Locks Gerhard Mostert and Steven Sykes left earlier in the year and they have since been joined by two of the franchise’s most loyal players, hooker John Smit and centre Stefan Terblanche.

The Sharks have contracted Griquas and Cheetahs former Bok fullback Riaan Viljoen and Stormers centre Tim Whitehead, and there is a strong possibility of further signings in the weeks ahead.

Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said yesterday that the pre-season training for most of the Sharks squad would commence on November 21.

“We are expecting our two signings to be there then, but Tim is still recovering from a groin operation. He will definitely be ready for the new season.”

Bashford said that the players who had been most heavily employed during the season, those who played through Super Rugby and on to the Rugby World Cup, had been given an extra week of rest .

“They will rejoin us on November 28 and that will give them a complete month’s break since the Currie Cup final.”

Bashford said that with the Boks not touring for the first time in many years, the leading players will be fresh and fit for the new season.

“The Springboks will be able to follow a proper off-season training schedule and that is really good news.”

The Sharks coach said that a thorough review of the 2011 season would take place when the players and coaching staff return on November 21.

“We have lost a number of real stalwarts in John Smit and Stefan Terblanche and obviously there will be changes as we look ahead to life without them.”

But Bashford said it was not all doom and gloom after the Sharks’ play-off losses in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.

“We were, of course, massively disappoin­ted with the Currie Cup final loss. We needed the World Cup Springboks if we were to win the Currie Cup, no doubt of that, and we were physically up for the game. But mentally we were not as sharp as the Lions on the day and our discipline was poor.”

He said there were still positive features to the season.

“We reached the Currie Cup final and teams like Western Province and the Blue Bulls, who also lost many Springboks during the year, did not. We also ended the season with the best defensive record in the competition and we scored 30 tries in the second half of the season to the 16 in the first round. So our attack also improved.

“But our discipline was a problem and we gave away too many penalties, and too much possession, and that is something we will really have to work on ahead of Super Rugby.”

He said that the depth in the province was also encouraging.

“The need to fill the gaps left by the many Boks, and injuries to players like Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod and Craig Burden, opened the door to a number of youngsters and they came through strongly.

“We also have a very young Sharks U21 side. They did really well to reach the national final [losing to a much older Blue Bulls side in the play-off]. Most of those players will be back for us at U21 level next year and they will certainly boost our senior Sharks team in the years ahead,” said Bashford.

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