All Sharks on deck ahead of Super Rugby season

2011-12-02 00:00

THE Sharks players have undergone their Christmas repairs and the team doctor says coach John Plumtree should have all his first-choice players available for the start of Super Rugby in February.

A number of senior Sharks players underwent surgery immediately after the Currie Cup final and are now part of the rehabilitation squad.

Team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde told The Witness yesterday that they all should be available for selection for the Sharks’ Super Rugby opener against the Bulls at Loftus on February 24.

The Springboks, for the first time in years, have not had to trundle off on a European tour immediately after the Currie Cup final and this has helped players in need of repairs.

“This unusual break has given us time to sort out a number of players. Players have had the chance to get over surgery and various niggles,” Van der Linde said.

The player who will take the longest to recover is burly Springbok flank Willem Alberts, he said.

Alberts had shoulder problems for most of this season and at one stage it seemed likely that he would miss the Rugby World Cup.

“He has had his surgery and there were no problems, but it is far too early to be definite about when he will be ready to play again. But we have a long break and I think he will be ready for the start of the Super Rugby season,” Van der Linde said.

Jean Deysel, who has the same physical approach as Alberts, is another who went under the knife.

“He has had an on-going problem with a knee injury and he has also had surgery to clean that up. He should be ready well in time for the new season.”

Van der Linde said prop Wiehahn Herbst and new signing, centre Tim Whitehead, had groin operations and were in the rehab group along with Jacques Botes (scope on his knee).

Players who had missed the final weeks of the Currie Cup, scrumhalf Charl McLeod, centre Meyer Bosman and Louis Ludik, were back at training.

The full Sharks squad were at pre-season training on Monday with the Springboks rejoining the group of 25 players.

Assistant coach Grant Bashford told the Sharks website that training varied from player to player.

“The players have all been put into different groups for different types of training. We’ve tried to be specific with who needs what.”

But all the players will be carefully monitored and assessed with regular body fat measurements taking place.

“We’re going to be really hard on that this campaign. The guys will be going away over Christmas, but will be given programmes to work on and there will be structures in place to take care of anyone who hasn’t lived up to what they need to do for the coming season.”

There will also be a heavy emphasis on skill work during the conditioning programme, he said.

“We will sit down with the group to discuss strategies, what’s worked well for us and what hasn’t and the way forward. We have a very experienced squad, so empowerment is vital. These guys have been around the block and played at a high level. Most of them are Springboks, so they will have a say in what we do and how we do it. A campaign can’t be run without empowerment.”

Bashford said the Sharks had lost some experience with John Smit, Stefan Terblanche and Adi Jacobs leaving the squad. “But we have brought in some younger players who are already experienced and we’re really looking forward to seeing what they can provide for us.

“We also have a wider training group with U21 players who we are really excited about. A number of these players had time in the Currie Cup and played in the U21 final.”

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