Jury still out on Pietersen’s fitness

2009-03-30 00:00

A decision on whether Springbok wing JP Pietersen will play for the Sharks against the Hurricanes in Durban on Saturday evening will be made later in the week.

Pietersen, the Sharks’ most potent attacker with seven tries in six matches, damaged a muscle in his lower calf against the Brumbies and left the field shortly after half-time. He did not practise with the Sharks yesterday and assistant coach Grant Bashford said that the tall wing will be given time to recover.

“We obviously won’t risk him, but there is still a chance he will be ready for the Hurricanes.”

Luzuko Vulindlu proved a lively replacement for Pietersen on Saturday and although he lacks experience, he has done all the Sharks have asked of him this season.

Bashford said that the remaining players came through the tough Brumbies game with no more than the usual bumps and bruises.

There was also good news regarding Bismarck du Plessis. Sharks head coach John Plumtree said on Saturday night that the competitive hooker had been cited following his “reckless” tackle, but there were no developments yesterday.

Plumtree said that some of the “niggly, negative” play of the Brumbies frustrated the Sharks and this resulted in several off-the-ball incidents.

“They kept blocking our players after they had kicked, preventing them from chasing,” said Plumtree, and certainly fullback Stefan Terblanche was obstructed on several occasions as he tried to chase up-and-unders.

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott was also impeded by players lying off-side, added the Sharks coach.

“There is a bit of history between these two teams and this also added to the needle in the game.”

Plumtree said that the Sharks’ physical approach brought out the aggression in the opposing teams.

“We have seen it time and again. Our players are naturally physical and the other teams know that and step up their aggression. At times, this leads to the line being crossed by both teams.”

Plumtree said the combination of the aggressive approach and the frustration at what was perceived to be a negative approach “irritated the boys a bit and it boiled over”.

“But that’s what can happen in an intense, tough competition.”

The Sharks were by no means free of blame and the excessively aggressive play of Kockott and Du Plessis, often off the ball, and the lack of composure of Frans Steyn are certainly concerns.

Saturday’s match against the Hurricanes, who beat the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, kicks off at 5.05 pm at King’s Park.

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