Kankowski lost to Boks, but Daniel the perfect cover

2010-08-25 00:00

SHARKS number eight Ryan Kankowski, who has been in and out of the Springbok squad this season, was yesterday included on the bench for Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies in Pretoria.

Kankowski has replaced Western Province flank Francois Louw, with Bok coach Peter de Villiers opting for greater mobility amongst his replacements.

Sharks coach John Plumtree, looking ahead to Friday night’s Currie Cup game against Griquas at King’s Park, said he had excellent number eight cover in the flourishing Keegan Daniel.

“I’m not too stressed if Keegan has to play number eight. He’s played every position amongst the loose forwards and been absolutely magnificently. I can’t speak highly enough about him. He’s been absolutely superb this Currie Cup, which makes it easier for me in terms of selection.”

Plumtree said that fullback Louis Ludik, who was knocked cold against Western Province and stretchered from the field at the weekend, was his major injury concern for the Griquas game.

“Louis faces another concussion test on Thursday before we make a decision. Andries Strauss [centre] is looking better after his shoulder injury and could be ready.”

Plumtree has lost reserve lock Ross Skeate to a groin injury sustained in the gym.

“Hopefully, it won’t be too serious. We have Anton Bresler and Michael Rhodes as cover,” he added.

He said that continuity in team selection was important and the return of Springboks, players like Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira, made it easier.

“We are expecting that Ryan [Kankowski] will be back in the weeks ahead, but JP Pietersen is likely to be lost to the Springbok conditioning group after the Tri-Nations.”

Plumtree is delighted to have a settled tight five and he will be boosted further when locks Skeate and former Lions second-rower Gerhard Mostert, who is back playing club rugby after an extended injury break, are fully fit.

Former Bok flyhalf Andre Pretorius, another involved at club level, will add to the Sharks’ depth in the weeks ahead.

The Sharks head the Currie Cup log by three points at the halfway stage and Plumtree said the semi-finals were now the target.

“We have a tougher second round with four away and three home games. We play WP, Bulls and the Lions away so that will be difficult.

“We obviously haven’t achieved anything yet so we have to ensure we keep the standards high.”

The Sharks coach is expecting a difficult night against Griquas on Friday.

“They were very aggressive at the breakdown against the Bulls, slowing the ball down or killing it, so I’m pleased we’ve got [referee] Jonathan Kaplan. He’ll be hard on that area and we need to be effective with our ball-carrying and securing quick ball to stretch their defence.”

Friday’s match kicks off at 7 pm and will not be televised.

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