Ludik’s return delayed

2010-03-11 00:00

THE return of talented fullback Louis Ludik, the Sharks’ new signing from the Lions this season, has been placed on hold following two outings in the Vodacom Cup.

Ludik, who can play fullback, wing and outside centre, became available to play for the Sharks only after they successfully went to the high court in Cape Town to gain his release from the Lions.

The young utility back tore knee ligaments playing for the Lions against the touring British Lions last June. He underwent a second knee operation in Durban in December and it was hoped he would be ready to join the Sharks on their overseas Super 14 tour.

But after two outings for the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup, it has been decided by the medical team that he requires further rehabilitation and treatment.

“It really is precautionary,” Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli said yesterday.

“There is a slight swelling behind the knee and we have decided not to rush him. There is still so much rugby to be played this year.”

The delay in Ludik’s return is a blow to the Sharks, who need to add an enterprising, incisive runner to what is largely a pedestrian backline.

The Sharks will name their team for Saturday’s Super 14 game against the Brumbies today and a couple of changes are expected.

One could come at tighthead where Jannie du Plessis, who scrummed powerfully against the Waratahs on Saturday but picked up another yellow card, could make way for John Smit, with Bismarck du Plessis returning at hooker.

Beast Mtawarira could also start on the loosehead ahead of Deon Carstens and there seems certain to be changes at loose forward with Keegan Daniel (slight concussion) replaced by Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel taking over from Willem Alberts.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies are in the happy position of being able to name an unchanged squad of 22 for Saturday’s game. It is only the third time since 2000 that the Canberra franchise have named the same line-up (including reserves) for four consecutive matches.

The Brumbies have won their past two matches with these 22 players, beating the Stormers 19-17 in Cape Town and defeating the Lions 24-13 last Friday at Canberra Stadium.

The Sharks have not won at Canberra Stadium since Ian McIntosh’s team beat the Brumbies 41-23 in 1998.

Brumbies head coach Andy Friend said that staying with the same personnel gives his team stability and continuity.

“It is a luxury. It gives you a chance to build combinations and it gives players confidence,” he said.

“Last weekend [against the Lions] we were a bit off. I guess part of that could be put down to travelling back from South Africa, part of it could be put down to the wet conditions, but these factors are the realities of playing in this competition and we need to be better than that.

“Teams like the Sharks don’t give you too many chances and we need to make sure that we’re converting any chance we get.

“We’re certainly not reading anything into their position on the table; they’re a side full of Springboks and, as we found out last season, they’re capable of running over the top of you if you give them that chance,” said Friend.

Despondent Sharks supporters will be hoping he is right.

 

Brumbies: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Stephen Hoiles (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Salesi Maafu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.

Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Guy Shepherdson, 18 Justin Harrison, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Matt Toomua, 22 Tyrone Smith.

Kick-off is on Saturday at 10.40 am.

TEAMS LIKE THE SHARKS DON’T GIVE YOU TOO MANY CHANCES AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE’RE CONVERTING ANY CHANCE WE GET.

ANDY FRIEND Brumbies coach

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