Du Toit back in the fray for Sharks

2013-09-12 00:00

PIETER-STEPH du Toit, the talented Sharks lock, will end three months on the sidelines when he returns for Saturday’s tough Currie Cup outing against Griquas in Kimberley.

The Sharks, with a couple of players facing fitness tests, will only name their team today but forward coach Brad Macleod-Henderson confirmed yesterday that Du Toit would start in Kimberley. The tall second-rower was sidelined in June with a sternum injury shortly after being included in the Springbok squad.

“Pieter-Steph is a phenomenal athlete and it’s fantastic to have him back,” Macleod-Henderson said.

Macleod-Henderson said that a dislocated shoulder had ruled out lock Marco Wentzel and this had “obviously accelerated Pieter-Steph’s return to the starting line-up”.

“It will be a tough return for him up in Kimberley but he’s been training well and done a lot of hard work with his rehab, so we are looking forward to seeing him in action.”

The Sharks coach said that Edwin Hewitt would join Du Toit in the second row.

“We need a big second-row against Griquas.”

Rayno Gerber, Odwa Ndungane and S’bura Sithole are all on the injured list but loose forwards Tera Mtembu and Brynard Stander have both returned to full fitness.

Most worrying is the bruised thigh suffered by the in-form flank Jean Deysel. Macleod-Henderson said he was confident Deysel would be ready on Saturday but otherwise former Griqua flank Justin Downey would replace him with Mtembu joining the bench.

He said that centre Tim White­head, after his quiet game at Newlands, would start again.

“He’s an important player for us. He’s got a bit of X-factor, quick feet and crisp hands, so we hope he can show that on Saturday.

“We obviously weren’t happy with the performance or the result against Province, but there are some positives even though it wasn’t a good game for us.

“Our scrum under-performed. I don’t think we are working as a unit and Province caught us off guard at a few scrums. That’s something we’re continuing to work hard on this week. Our scrum remains work-in-progress, but I’m sure it will be better this Saturday.”

The Sharks were heavily penalised by referee Craig Joubert at Newlands and Macleod-Henderson said he hoped the players had learnt from their mistakes.

“We’ve chatted to Craig [Joubert] about a few areas, the breakdown, offside lines, counter-rucking, just to get a better idea of what the referees are looking at when they’re on the field. “We hope that will equip our players to make better on-field decisions,” the Sharks coach said.

The match kicks off at 3 pm on Saturday.

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