Help may come too late for embattled Sharks

2011-05-05 00:00

HELP is on its way, but it could — unless there is a dramatic Sharks’ revival over the next month — arrive just too late to spark their Super Rugby challenge.

The Sharks’ most obvious problem this season has been in the midfield where Bok centre Meyer Bosman and veteran Stefan Terblanche have failed to make the expected impact on either attack or defence.

The Sharks have signed Marius Joubert, the 31-Springbok centre, on a two-year contract, but he may not arrive in Durban in time to play a significant role in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.

Joubert is playing for French club Clermont Auvergne in the French Top 14 and they are still in contention for a semi-final spot and the title. He will leave for Durban as soon as Clermont’s interest in the competition has ended and the Sharks are hoping that will be sooner rather than later and he will be available later this month.

The French Top final is on June 4 and the Sharks play their last two league games against the Lions (June 11) and Bulls (June 18) before the play-offs.

Joubert can play either inside or outside centre and certainly his pace and penetration on attack would add a refreshing new dimension to the Sharks’ backplay.

But for the moment coach John Plumtree is short of midfield options and he will be looking at the current centres — Bosman, Terblanche and Adi Jacobs — to lift their level of performance.

The Sharks face the Brumbies at King’s Park on Saturday night and midfield is not Plumtree’s only area of concern.

The return to full fitness of tall lock Alistair Hargreaves should bring some consistency to a wobbly Sharks lineout while flank Jean Deysel’s availability after many months adds power and quality at loose forward.

A number of players, among them number eight Ryan Kankowski and scrumhalf Charl McLeod, have battled to reproduce the verve and excitement they showed in the Currie Cup last year. Indeed, Plumtree could now opt for a backrow of Deysel, Willem Alberts and Keegan Daniel and play Kankowski off the bench.

John Smit (strained calf) is out for a fortnight — the Sharks have a bye next weekend — but Plumtree can still field an all-Bok front-row of the Du Plessis brothers and Beast Mtawarira.

The Brumbies, beaten 47-36 by the Cheetahs on Friday night, travelled to Durban on Saturday and have since held two training sessions at Northwood High School.

Their three injury concerns are Mitch Chapman, Peter Kimlin (both arm) and Dan Palmer (foot), but they are recovering well and are expected to be fit to face the Sharks.

Captain and Wallaby flyhalf Matt Giteau said he is confident his team could right the wrongs made against the Cheetahs.

“We need to be more focused and committed from the start of the match,” Giteau said.

“That will be something we are looking at tightening up against the Sharks.

“Once again our discipline will also have to improve. Pat Lambie is a very good goal kicker and will make us pay if we let him.”

Both teams will be announced today. The match kicks off at 7.10 pm.

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