Herbst in for Carstens, as Sharks work hard

2010-03-17 00:00

WIEHAHN Herbst, the talented 20-year-old prop, is flying to New Zealand to replace Springbok loosehead Deon Carstens.

Carstens has aggravated a knee cartilage injury and is returning to Durban for a scope. Herbst, who can play on either side of the scrum, has played junior rugby for South Africa and was starting to make his mark in the Sharks Currie Cup side last year when he was injured.

This season the enthusiastic, 114-kg Herbst has picked up where he left off and has impressed for the strong-scrummaging Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup.

Carstens started the Super 14 game against the Waratahs earlier this month, but was replaced by Beast Mtawarira in the first half when he injured his right knee. He returned to training on Monday, but again aggravated the injury and team doctor Craig Roberts has ruled him out of the remaining two matches (against the Highlanders and the Hurricanes) on tour.

Another player for the future, the 19-year-old Pat Lambie could feature against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. Lambie, a product of Michaelhouse, is likely to be on the bench, but there is a possibility that he could start at fullback if veteran Stefan Terblanche is moved to the wing. Odwa Ndungane took a heavy knock against the Brumbies and left the field late in the second half.

Meanwhile, Sharks captain John Smit is in total agreement with coach John Plumtree’s statement (reported in yesterday’s Witness) that certain media reports of a split in the squad are “rubbish”.

“I can tell you that if there was a rift in the camp, we wouldn’t be competitive,” Smit told the Sharks website yesterday. “That makes it even more ridiculous. I’ve been on tours where things weren’t right within the team, when guys jump ship. We lost by 40 or 50 points.

“But there is no way we would be trying so hard if there was a rift in the camp. The rumours are completely untrue. This team is committed … I find that very irritating, because they simply aren’t happening.

“To Plum’s credit, he’s managed to get the team to stick together in these tough times. Losing is not easy for any side, but we’re not losing because there are problems in the camp, that much I can tell you.”

Smit said that the one positive to be drawn from the string of losses was that his respect for the Sharks coach had been enhanced.

“The biggest positive is that I have gained so much respect for Plum. It’s a hard place to be for a coach. Everyone is doing hours of work, from the masseuse, to the physio and doctor, to the coaches, but at the end of the day, they can’t influence what happens on the field.

“The players have all stuck together and enjoyed each others’ company. The fact that we’ve been in every game except the Crusaders match shows that we are a competitive team. But the log doesn’t show it and it’s up to us to prove otherwise,” said Smit.

Saturday’s match against the Highlanders kicks off at 8.35 am.

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