Injured Steyn may play

2008-05-12 00:00

FRANCOIS Steyn, the Sharks’ helter-skelter centre, may still play in Saturday’s make-or-break Super 14 outing against the Chiefs at King’s Park.

Steyn damaged rib cartilage when he landed on the ball following a heavy tackle in the final quarter of the weekend game against the Cheetahs.

The injury would usually sideline a player for a couple of weeks, but team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday he was “quietly optimistic” Steyn would recover in time.

“He is a tough guy and recovers quickly from injury. He is already responding well to treatment and we will give him every opportunity to play,” said Roberts.

Roberts, who was last week named as the Springboks’ new team doctor, said that there were a number of bruised and sore players, “but no real concerns”.

Bismarck du Plessis went off during Saturday’s game, but the Bok hooker will be fit for the Chiefs game.

“Bismarck du Plessis took a finger in the eye, but he seems to have recovered well.”

Sharks captain and lock Johann Muller was back at training yesterday and Roberts said he was “looking good for the weekend”.

Certainly coach Dick Muir faces a number of difficult selections —in midfield, particularly if Steyn is passed fit, and in the second row.

Centres Steyn, Adrian Jacobs, Brad Barritt and Waylon Murray are all in contention, while Muir has also to omit one of his four locks (Muller, Johan Ackermann, Steven Sykes or Albert van den Berg) from the match 22.

Muir was delighted with the influence that the recalled Ackermann had on Saturday’s game — “we have signed him for two more years”, the Sharks coach joked later.

He will also have been heartened by the improved showing of the backs and the impressive contributions from Ndungane, Steyn, Stefan Terblanche and wing JP Pietersen, who was more involved in the action and made the early running for two of Jacques Botes’ tries.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, have suffered a blow with their prop Ben May suspended for three weeks for careless use of the boot against the Lions on Saturday.

A Sanzar judicial committee ruled yesterday that the offence was at the lower end of the scale, but still deemed that May had been careless when he stood on the head of Lions flanker Joe van Niekerk.

He is ruled out of this weekend’s final-round match against the Sharks and will be unavailable if the seventh-placed Chiefs advance to the semi-finals and final.

The judgment took into account that “there was no malice, no intent to cause harm and the prop’s unblemished record at first class rugby”.

He has never previously received a yellow card.

May was sent off for the offence and a try by his team was subsequently disallowed during their 27-33 loss in Johannesburg.

Chiefs management engaged the services of Wellington barrister Tim Castle to appear as counsel for May at the judicial hearing in Durban.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7.10 pm and the Sharks will be hoping to better the disappointing 25 000 crowd that watched them beat the Cheetahs.

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