Plumtree resting a number of players

2008-09-16 00:00

FLANK Jacques Botes, one of the most consistent and hardest working players in the squad, is likely to be rested this weekend when the Sharks travel to Brakpan for their Currie Cup match.

Coach John Plumtree has said that a number of regulars, including fullback Stefan Terblanche and hooker Bismarck du Plessis, would be given the weekend off. Assistant coach Grant Bashford yesterday added Botes to the list.

“Jacques is tired and we will probably play him off the bench,” said Bashford.

“It will be an ideal opportunity to give Ryan Kankowski more game time after his injury.”

This will probably result in Keegan Daniel shifting from number eight to flank to accommodate the Springbok number eight.

Bashford said that the two Sharks injured against Free State on Saturday, Odwa Ndungane (hip) and Beast Mtawarira (groin) would be held back for the important Lions game at Ellis Park the following weekend.

French flyhalf Frederic Michalak is another player nursing a slight injury, but the Sharks are hoping he will be fit for Brakpan.

Bashford said the Sharks could field a new centre pairing with Springbok Adrian Jacobs starting alongside Brad Barritt, who is returning from injury.

“Waylon Murray could get another run on the wing where he has been playing well.”

Springbok hooker and captain John Smit has been working on his fitness since undergoing surgery “but he is not ready to be considered yet”, said Bashford.

The Sharks coaching staff, he added, were delighted with the showing of the pack in the set pieces against Free State.

“Johann Muller said our set pieces were probably as strong as they have ever been against Free State. And that was a huge positive because Free State look to attack in that area and it helped us get our rhythm against them. But it was a rewarding win after so long. Strategically we were very good and our kicking game almost suffocated them, although some of our execution let us down.”

The Sharks coach said that motivation against the Falcons remained a challenge for the players.

“We have spoken about it, but if we are professional and mentally prepared, the result will take care of itself. Our rugby is coming together nicely now and growing. … It’s exciting and there’s a lovely buzz in the squad, but they have to remain focused.”

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