Plumtree tips 'feller-of-hefty-oaks' Daniel for Springbok selection

2010-10-05 00:00

SHARKS loose forward Keegan Daniel should be in the Springbok rugby squad to tour the United Kingdom next month.

That is the view of Sharks head coach John Plumtree, who is usually reluctant to promote individual players as Springboks, but believes Daniel deserves recognition at national level.

The 25-year-old Daniel, although barely raising a mention from critics outside Shark country, has been in remarkable form this year, impressing on both attack and defence.

In the absence of regular captain Stefan Terblanche, he led the Sharks against the Leopards at King’s Park on Friday night, scored the opening two tries and was named man-of-the-match, although playing for only an hour before being rested.

At 94 kg and 1,88 metres, he is relatively small by international standards, but he punches well above his weight, either when crashing through tackles or felling tall and hefty oaks.

“Keegan has led by example this year,” said Plumtree. “All year he has been in such great form, whether he’s played at 6, 7 or 8.

“I don’t know if there is a loose forward in the Currie Cup who has had as much influence as Keegan has had. He would certainly be an excellent tourist for the Boks at the end of the year — a guy who can play anywhere in the back row and wouldn’t let them down.”

Plumtree said that Daniel, with his pace and deft off-loading in the tackle, has made a greater impact and has had a bigger influence than a number of loose forwards who have played for the Springboks this year.

“He’s been outstanding. He does things some forwards can only dream about. The work rate and intensity he brings to the game is remarkable and his rugby has just grown.

“The way he plays suits the new laws in terms of breakdown and he would be an asset to a Springbok team,” said Plumtree.

Another Sharks Springbok, loosehead Beast Mtawarira, seems certain to be back in the Test starting line-up to face Ireland in the Test in Dublin next month.

The injury suffered by Blue Bulls prop Gurthrö Steenkamp against Western Province has ruled the current Bok loosehead out of the tour.

Steenkamp, falling awkwardly as he tried to control the ball, broke his arm.

“Both bones in the forearm are broken,” Blue Bulls team doctor Org Strauss told reporters.

“Gurthrö underwent an operation on Saturday night and everything went well. He will be sidelined for between six and eight weeks.”

Steenkamp was one of the few Springboks to emerge from the Tri-Nations with his head high after a series of consistently powerful perfor­mances.

Sharks captain John Smit could be back at loosehead for the rugby World Cup next year, but he has been sidelined following neck surgery and the door is wide open for the Beast Mtawarira, who has resolved his South African citizenship status.

Mtawarira, who has also had his fair share of injuries and has seen relatively little action this year, is in the Bok conditioning group, but he will be available for the Sharks this weekend when they play their final round Currie Cup game against Western Province in Cape Town.

The Blue Bulls, who are the Sharks’ likely opponents in the semi-finals in Durban in a fortnight, will have their many Springboks back, but they do have a number of injury concerns.

Springbok number eight Pierre Spies has been ruled out of Saturday’s Currie Cup game against Griquas in Kimberley. Spies, also part of the conditioning programme, is suffering from a calf strain.

Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Wynand Olivier and Morné Steyn are all likely to return against Griquas to ready themselves for the semi-finals.

Steenkamp, Spies, Gerrit-Jan van Velze (broken thumb), Juandre Kruger (broken hand) and Deon Stegmann (hamstring) will miss the Kimberley trip, but hooker Gary Botha is expected to play.

The Sharks match against Province is at 5.05 pm on Saturday.

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