Injury-hit Sharks going in as underdogs

2008-07-01 00:00

AHEAD of a crucial must-win match against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Absa Currie Cup this Saturday, the Sharks injury toll continues to mount.

It looks certain that there will be more than just a few changes to the side that beat Boland’s Kavaliers, scoring a bonus point last Friday night at Durban’s Absa Stadium.

Going into the game at Loftus as underdogs, not only have the Sharks taken a couple of steps backwards when the aim is to improve noticeably week on week, but they will also be making further changes that may compound their failure to get continuity going.

Commenting on Saturday’s match, the Sharks coach admitted: “Not too many sides go to Loftus as favourites. We’re obviously missing quite a few players — them too — but we have injuries and a couple playing out of position, which is not ideal. I’d say they are favourites, I’d be surprised if they weren’t.”

After being dropped from the Springbok squad, BJ Botha looks set to take over from Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop, while Steven Sykes, having woken up with a sore knee on Sunday and having not yet trained this week, could miss the game.

Nic Strauss, a former Wildebeest player who has been training with the Sharks since last week, looks set to be included in the match day 22. Commenting on Sykes’ move from lock to flank, coach John Plumtree admitted, “We have considered moving him back to lock because I think I can get same from him there. He is very mobile and has an excellent work rate.”

The good news is that livewire scrumhalf Rory Kockott’s ankle injury may not be as serious as originally thought. “Although he’s doubtful, he’s coming along nicely,” said the coach. “He’s still limping, I give him a 50-50 chance of playing.” Either Scott Mathie or Charl McLeod will start at scrumhalf.

Brad Barritt, who missed last week’s game, did limited work in training yesterday and is expected to be fit for the game, while Alistair Hargreaves has been down with flu all week and not trained. Albert van den Berg is earmarked to take his place.

The Sharks side is likely to be named tomorrow.

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