Hargreaves, Ludik back for Sharks

2010-09-03 00:00

THE Sharks have been boosted by the return of lock Alistair Hargreaves and fullback Louis Ludik for the crunch Currie Cup game against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow night.

The two players missed the Griquas game last Friday, but have been passed fit for Loftus, significantly strengthening the team.

Ludik, who has improved with every outing since his extended break following knee surgery, had last week off after suffering concussion against Western Province. He returns in place of Monty Dumond, who drops out of the match 22.

The tall Hargreaves, the Sharks’ leading lineout jumper, has been one of the team’s most consistent performers in the Currie Cup and he has a decisive role to play against the big Bulls pack. He missed the Griquas game because of a groin injury, and with Ross Skeate also sidelined, the Sharks were caught short in the second row.

“We’ve picked close to a full-strength side,” Plumtree said yesterday. “Alistair Hargreaves has trained positively over the last couple of days and so has Louis Ludik.”

Michael Rhodes will provide second-row cover with flank Skholiwe Ndlovu also named on the bench.

“Selection hasn’t been too difficult,” said Plumtree, adding that the consistency of performance has made his job easier.

The Sharks coach was not too concerned that the team leaked four tries against Griquas after conceding just one in their two previous games.

“Griquas only created one attacking try. Two of their other tries came from turnovers and another off a high kick. Bjorn Basson [the Griqua wing] is a bit of a burglar [of tries] and was good enough to score all four tries against us, but we’re not too worried about our defence.”

Plumtree has named former Bok flyhalf Andre Pretorius on the bench.

The Sharks, with seven wins in a row and just one defeat, have a seven-point cushion at the top of the log while the Bulls, with four losses, are in fourth place.

The match kicks off at 7.10 pm tomorrow and will be refereed by Jonathan Kaplan.

The Sharks-Bulls game is the only one tomorrow night.

There are three games tonight. The Lions take on Western Province at Ellis Park (SS1 at 7.10 pm) while Griquas are at home to Free State in Kimberley and the Leopards host the Pumas in Potchefstroom in games that will not be televised.

Meanwhile, Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar left Durban this week to join his former team-mate Johann Muller at Ulster.

The Springbok utility back has signed a two-year deal with the Irish club, but told the Sharks website that he is keen to return to Durban after his stint in Belfast.

“I thought long and hard about it. It was a difficult decision leaving the Sharks because I’ve been here for a few years now and they’ve become a family to me. But I came to a situation where I needed some stability at a national level,” he said.

Pienaar, who played exactly 100 games for the Sharks (33 at Currie Cup level and 67 in the Super 14), said he is sorry to be leaving.

“I’m looking forward to a new start, but I look back with great fondness at the coaches I’ve played under here at the Sharks, as well as the great players I’ve called team-mates.

“This is a very professional union and I’m sad to leave, but hopefully I’ll be back here in a couple of years.

“I’d love to come back and play for the Sharks again and finish my career as an old toppie in Durban.”

SHARKS TEAM:

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche (captain), 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Andre Pretorius, 22.Riaan Swanepoel.

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