Ruan Pienaar out for next two weeks

2008-02-26 00:00

RUAN Pienaar is out, but the Sharks are optimistic that robust hooker Bismarck du Plessis will be over his rib injury before they bump the Bulls in Saturday’s Super 14 clash at Loftus Versfeld.

Pienaar has “a grade one collar bone injury” and will be out for 10 to 12 days, Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said yesterday, adding that the scrumhalf should be back to face the Blues on March 8.

There were fears that Du Plessis, the hard-driving hooker, had a broken a rib against the Stormers.

“Thank goodness there is no break and he has been running this week without contact,” said Bashford. “We’re optimistic he will play.”

The genial Sharks coach said that there remained “huge” respect for the Bulls, in spite of their 50-point drubbing by the Crusaders at Loftus at the weekend.

“Any side can get a hiding from anyone in this tournament if you don’t turn up on the day.”

He said that the Bulls had the misfortune to also catch the Crusaders on a good day, when they [Bulls] were off the boil.

“But this is a Sharks-Bulls derby and they will be up for it after what happened against the Crusaders.”

The New Zealand teams, said Bashford, were determined to prove a point after their RWC experiences. Taking on the champions (the Bulls) at Loftus — where they lost the semi-final last year — provided additional incentive.

Bashford admitted that the Sharks were still not at full fitness.

“It was part of our plan to provide the Wold Cup Boks with as much time as possible to recover. From a conditioning perspective, we knew our Boks would be off the pace, but it’s a long tournament.

Bashford does not believe that travelling to Loftus will be a major factor.

“We have a good record at Loftus and we don’t see travelling away as that much of a problem. The guys are looking forward to getting away from the heat of Durban and playing with a dry ball.”

The Sharks assistant coach said that he was not happy with their showing against the Stormers.

“The type of rugby we are playing now is not what we want, but sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards. Right now, at this stage of the season, it’s better to have the two wins.”

Bashford said the coaching staff were encouraged by the discipline of the Sharks in the hot, trying conditions.

“We had five yellow cards in the pre-season friendlies and the players and the leadership in the team discussed the problem. It’s good to see the way the guys have carried it through on to the field.

“With the new laws there is enough running for men so you put yourself under huge pressure if you are a man down.”

Bashford said that the Sharks would field much the same squad against the Bulls, with Rory Kockott starting in place of Pienaar.

“Charl McLeod could provide back-up at scrumhalf or Fred Michalak [a former French Test scrumhalf] could be used there.”

There has also been some speculation that Frans Steyn may be used at inside centre — where he played in the RWC — with Stefan Terblanche at fullback.

The team is expected to be named today. Saturday’s game at Loftus kicks off at 7.05 pm.

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