‘It’s going to be massive’

2014-05-07 00:00

THE Sharks were dealt another blow on the Australian leg of their Super Rugby tour yesterday after Fred Zeilinga joined Marcell Coetzee on the casualty list and will be returning to Durban.

The young flyhalf sustained a hamstring problem and will be replaced by Jaco van Tonder, less than 48 hours after it emerged that flanker Coetzee, one of the stand-out players of the season so far, is also headed for home due to a shoulder injury.

Zeilinga (21) was an unused substitute during the 22-16 win over the Rebels in Melbourne last Friday, but his setback means that Jake White’s backline, already without Springbok ace Patrick Lambie for the rest of the term, can hardly do with any further disruptions, especially to a certain Frans Steyn.

The latest news also means that 20-year-old Tim Swiel will again get his chance when the competition leaders face the second-placed Brumbies this week. The Bishop’s College graduate had started two games prior to the tour, but failed to make the meaningful impact that had been expected.

Meanwhile, tough-tackling Jean Deysel admitted that facing up to Australians in Canberra was going to pose a massive challenge for the Sharks, but insisted they were fully prepared especially after starting their tour on a high.

Director of rugby White saw his charges stretch their lead at the summit to five points when they became the first South African side to win on tour in 2014, but they now face the first of two massive games on the trip.

“It’s going to be massive,” Deysel said from their Coogee base in Sydney. “It’s like a final, a top-of-the-table clash. It’s not going to be easy, but we have been working really hard this week training-wise, but the boys are up for it.”

The hard-hitting loose forward, singled out for praise by his boss after the Rebels win, acknowledged that overcoming the Brumbies will be a sizeable task ahead of another gigantic game in Christchurch against the Crusaders on May 17.

“We know what we want to do, it’s about getting out onto the park and delivering,” he said. “They [the Brumbies] are having a great season, they’re at home, so we know we have a big game on the weekend and we’re really looking forward to it. We hope we can deliver for the fans back home and to the rest of the boys on tour.”

Deysel insisted that breaking the South African tour jinx was not as big a deal as starting the tour with a win.

“It was spoken about, but not in great detail and no great emphasis was placed on it,” he said. “You want to win every game on tour, and yes, they are tougher when you’re not at home.

“So it wasn’t the main thing on our minds, we just wanted to get the tour off to a good start.

“Starting the tour well meant a lot to the guys. That also meant that the mood in the camp is really high as is the morale, so we can only build from there.”

Apart from the clash bringing together the top two sides, it is also a reunion for White with his former employers, whom he quit last year to take over at the Sharks.

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