Loss of Deysel major blow for Sharks

2009-03-02 00:00

The loss of muscular flank Jean Deysel to a knee ligament injury is a serious blow for the Sharks and will deny them one of their most physical forwards at a critical stage of the season.

Deysel, injured in the opening minutes of the Chiefs match, is returning home while Durban product Justin Downey is flying to New Zealand as his replacement.

The 22-year-old Downey, at 1,92 m tall and weighing 105 kg, is a product of Northwood Boys High — where he played centre — and attended the Sharks Academy. He moved to flank when he attended Murray Mexted’s Academy in New Zealand in 2007.

The 110-kg Deysel, as a ball carrier and uncompromising defender, was missed in the tough exchanges around the fringes on Saturday. The talk in the Sharks camp is that coach John Plumtree will stay with Keegan Daniel as Deysel’s replacement, but with Jacques Botes on the other flank and Ryan Kankowski at number eight, the Sharks will be short of bulk and muscle for the physical battle against the Blues this Saturday.

Plumtree might consider the option of playing one of his locks, Steven Sykes, Albert van den Berg or Alistair Hargreaves, as a blindside flank in the first half and then using Daniel after the break.

Deysel is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks, but the Sharks will be hoping to have him back by May for at least the final three round robin games and, if they advance, the play-offs.

Deysel made a massive impact on the Currie Cup last year, and was named the player of the competition.

“We’ll miss Jean and we missed his presence against the Chiefs,” said Plumtree.

Assistant coach Grant Bashford told the Sharks website that Deysel had a major impact on the Currie Cup season last year.

“When he joined us in round six of the Currie Cup last year, that changed our whole year. He’s one of those players who brings something special to the team, so losing him certainly is a blow.

“However, we always say when someone goes it opens the door for someone else and we are just really fortunate to have a player of the calibre of Keegan Daniel to step in, while Skholiwe Ndlovu will step up on to the bench.”

Bashford added that Ndlovu and Downey have been involved with the Sharks from the beginning of the season and they would have no problems settling in.

The Sharks will again be tested by the Blues who looked well-coached and -organised against the Stormers, but Plumtree will have been delighted at the form of Stefan Terblanche and JP Pietersen, both in attack and defence.

Centre Frans Steyn, typically, was wildly unpredictable, mixing sublime moments with frustrating ones. He scored one try, fashioned another with a superb left-footed chip and he was heroic in defence. But he also once ignored an overlap as he went in search of defenders to run over and finally almost cost his team the win when he chose to run from his own line in the dying seconds — and conceded possession — when he had time to clear the ball downfield.

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