Injury-hit Sharks look to youngsters

2013-04-10 00:00

THE Sharks, hit by a fresh wave of injuries, have sent for reinforcements ahead of Saturday’s big Super Rugby derby against the Stormers in Cape Town.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said that two Lions players, flank Jaco Kriel and wing/fullback Andries Coetzee, are training with the Sharks squad.

“We’ve also promoted [wing/fullback] Sean Robinson from the Sharks XV. He is an exciting young player, an Academy student from Waterkloof High School, and there is a possible opportunity for some new blood.”

The Sharks lost flank Jacques Botes (broken arm) and wing Odwa Ndungane during the Crusaders game at the weekend.

He said that Ndungane had a Grade 1 hamstring strain “and might make it this weekend and we’re hoping to have [flank] Jean Deysel back this weekend”.

While the three new squad players are unlikely to start against the Stormers, Plumtree may use one or two on the bench or on the Sharks’ four-match tour of New Zealand and Australia which starts at the end of the month.

The coach said both the Sharks and Stormers had been disrupted by enforced changes.

“We are both in double figures in terms of injuries which is a bit alarming,” said Plumtree. “But it will show how much talent we have in South Africa when we [Sharks and Stormers] still put out two good teams at Newlands despite 20 injuries between us.”

The Sharks coach said that wear and tear, along with bad luck, contributed to the many injuries. “The intensity is probably the same but it’s about luck. We’re not getting players sidelined for months rather than one or two weeks.”

He said it could be the result of three hard years of rugby. “If you get stressed with injury in one department, the replacements have to play without a break and then it becomes a wear and tear thing.

“We’re also developing a lot of Springboks who play in the June break or go on the end-of-year tour. A team like the Brumbies have four or five internationals and they started pre-season training in October last year. You can see the benefit of that.”

Plumtree said the Sharks would have to continue their recent solid work in the scrums and lineouts to succeed at Newlands.

“Your set-piece has to operate if you want to win the territory and possession stakes. If you’re down in that stat, you struggle. The Stormers have one of the better attacking lineouts in the country. They had a bit of a meltdown in the last couple of weeks but they were back to their efficient best against the Cheetahs.”

He said that the Sharks had lacked intensity in defence in the first half against the Crusaders and that was a concern.

“We have to play for 80 minutes and we’re not doing that. Getting up in this competition every week is a big challenge.

“The good side that consistently plays with intensity will be the one that hosts the playoffs.”

The Stormers will field their third halfback combination in seven matches on Saturday.

Dewaldt Duvenage seems certain to replace out-of-touch Nic Groom at scrumhalf, partnering Gary van Aswegen who is to take over from the injured Elton Jantjies at flyhalf.

Kick-off at 5.05 pm.

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