Plumtree: I’ve never seen so many players go down

2013-05-08 00:00

THE Sharks medical team yesterday released a detailed breakdown of the many injuries in the squad, and the good news is that Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Butch James are just over a week away from returning to action.

Willem Alberts will play in the Super Rugby game in Brisbane this weekend.

Hooker Du Plessis, who has been out since last year, and James (knee surgery) will be available for the Sharks after their overseas tour ends on Friday week.

Coach John Plumtre said yesterday that Alberts, who has flown out to join the squad ahead of their game against the Reds on Friday, will play off the bench.

Another 11 players remain on the injury list, but at least three more, Beast Mtawarira, Tim Whitehead and Louis Ludik, are expected to be back after the June international window period.

Plumtree said the sheer number of the injuries, and their serious nature, was something that could not have been anticipated.

“It has been unnatural seeing so many players go down, and for lengthy periods, and I’ve never experienced this in my coaching career.

“But we still have a good side which is a credit to the depth in the squad, and we have also been able to call on the Lions to help us out.

“But there have been big changes and the youngsters are getting more opportunities than they would ever have thought they would.”

Plumtree admitted that the many changes each week, the lack of continiuty and having to field players out of position had “made life difficult”.

“But that’s sport. We can only try to control the things we can.”

Plumtree emphasised that there was no question of throwing in the towel after four successive defeats.

“That’s the important message from the team … a lot of people have given up on us, but we certainly haven’t and we want to show we are committed and that our actions on the field show that.”

He said he was setting short-term goals to take the pressure of the team.

“We want to play for each other and for the jersey. Circumstances are different because we have so many guys out and the focus is trying to get the team fit and focused for Friday.”

The battered Sharks did not train on Monday and had their first practice on the Queenland’s Gold Coast yesterday.

Plumtree had wing JP Pietersen running at outside centre in place of the injured Frans Steyn with young Piet Lindeque on the wing.

Captain Keegan Daniel, who is struggling with his form and confidence, is likely to play at number eight in place of the badly bruised Tera Mtembu, with Jean Deysel, if he overcomes a thigh strain, starting on the flank.

JC Janse van Rensburg, a specialist loosehead, is to take over from Wiehahn Herbst, who will shift to tighthead in place of the limping Jannie du Plessis (ankle strain).

Bok flank Willem Alberts, who is joining the team today, would play off the bench, Plumtree said.

The match kicks off at 11.40 am on Friday and New Zealander Glen Jackson will be the referee.

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