Currie Cup: Sharks in frantic search for hooker

2012-08-22 00:00

THE Sharks are scouring the streets for a hooker.

The serious knee injury suffered by Test hooker Bismarck du Plessis resulted in the Springboks calling up his Sharks team-mate Craig Burden as his replacement for the trip to Argentina this week.

This has hit the Sharks where it hurts most, in the front-row where they are already battling against heavier, more experienced opponents.

Kyle Cooper, the robust hooker who has already made an impact at Currie Cup level, was the Sharks’ number three hooker and he would have been an obvious replacement for Burden.

But he has been sidelined by injury and is still a couple of weeks away from playing again.

The 21-year-old Monde Hadebe, who has been on the Sharks’ bench for the first two Currie Cup games, will now start against the Blue Bulls at Loftus on Saturday night, but the Sharks now lack back-up off the bench.

Sharks manager Rudolf Straeuli said this week he had been busy trying to find an available hooker.

“We could have Kyle and Craig back quite soon, but we need to find a short-term solution and we are obviously first looking to see what is available locally.”

Coach John Plumtree said that the Sharks were battling at the set piece and the Blue Bulls, traditionally strong in the scrum and lineout, would aim to take advantage.

“Nothing changes when you play the Bulls and you have to look after the set piece and their big runners.”

The Sharks coach said that they had a couple of injury concerns with centre Meyer Bosman and talented young flank Francois Kleinhans facing fitness tests before the team could be confirmed.

He said he had been delighted at the way the Sharks improved in the second half in beating the Lions on Saturday.

“We knew if we could build pressure by holding on to the ball, we could get ahead.

“That was really what we did which was the pleasing part of it. From a defensive point of view, we were right up there in terms of stats.”

He said the lack of bonus points was not a major problem “because no one is getting them”.

“We are really still building [with an almost totally revamped team] and everyone has to be really patient with us.

“We have injuries and we’ve suffered disruptions and it’s not always easy to get four tries in a game. But we are certainly encouraging the players to be ambitious and play to space.

“If we can exploit that space, if we’re good enough, then we will score tries.”

He said it was too early to judge the Sharks’ record of being the only unbeaten team.

“But if we talk about six wins from six games, then we can get excited. It’s just important that the players understand what is required to win and embrace that challenge.

“We’ve had a good start, but we play the Blue Bulls at Loftus this weekend which is going to be very tough — for any side,” added Plumtree.

The Bulls are hoping that their captain Dewald Potgieter (thigh) will be fit for Saturday after missing the game lost in Bloemfontein to Free State at the weekend.

Loose forward Arno Botha, who missed the outing against the Cheetahs, is likely to be fit to face the Sharks.

The match kicks off at 7.10 pm and will be followed two hours later by the Bok-Pumas Test in Mendoza.

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