Michalak to boost young Sharks

2008-07-08 00:00

SHARKS assistant coach Grant Bashford has passed on the good news that French international Frederic Michalak is likely to play for the Sharks in their Absa Currie Cup match against the Valke on Friday.

With the injury toll continuing unabated and the players who missed last week possibly remaining out for a further week, Michalak’s return comes at just the right time.

“If Fred comes through his running, he could get 20 minutes this weekend,” Bashford said. If he does play, he will come off the bench, but certainly the initial, ugly prognosis has been put to rest.

“The first thought when he went down [in the Super 14 against the Waratahs in late April] was that the injury was career-threatening, then it was nine months, now two months later he is getting a game. Just being back on his feet and playing, he deserves a lot of credit. He’s rehabbed, worked really hard here with [Sharks biokineticist] Jimmy Wright, his conditioning is excellent and he has a strong work ethic.

“He’s so excited to play, I jokingly asked him if he wanted to play the Bulls and he was more than willing, his attitude is fantastic.”

With Bradley Barritt still not assured of starting this weekend, being able to call on the expertise of a player with international experience in the pivotal flyhalf position is a massive boost for the Sharks.

“In the situation we find ourselves with depth, getting him back is fantastic, his experience will be huge for our campaign,” Bashford added. “It would be great for him to come through 20 minutes and be ready for selection against the Cheetahs next week. We’re really excited about it.”

Barritt has had a scan on his groin, confirmed the assistant coach.

“He’s had a few back-to-back injuries and we want to check that there is nothing structurally wrong there.” He also pointed out that while Rory Kockott has not been ruled out, he is doubtful for Friday.

The coaching staff believe that there was a distinct improvement in the Bulls game, but getting to a level where they want to be is going to take time.

“We’re blooding a lot of young, new players and we need to make sure we work hard so they improve,” said Bashford. “We all need to show patience; we’ll get there, we have got the players, we just need to work harder. Losing to the Bulls is not the end of the world.”

What has exacerbated the situation — an inability to build momentum — has not only been the injuries in key areas and to key personnel, but the timing.

“The injuries and the lateness of these injuries has had an effect. We’ve had guys named in the side pulling out after captain’s practice, or on the day, and that affects the way you go into the game. In saying that, the guys who have replaced them have played well.”

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