Selectors in a spot of bother

2013-07-03 00:00

JOB insecurity among the caretaker coaches, and the lateness in the day, could work in favour of struggling captain Keegan Daniel when the Sharks team that will face the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld is named later today.

Sharks’ assistant coaches Grant Bashford and Hugh Reece-Edwards, in the absence of John Plumtree, have been left minding the shop. Temporarily.

Nothing has been announced officially but Brad MacLeod-Henderson and Sean Everitt are taking over the Sharks’ Currie Cup squad and no one seems to know what will become of Bashford and Reece-Edwards.

While they are caught up in this cloud of uncertainty, the two still face some awkward choices in naming a team for Saturday night’s Super Rugby derby at Loftus.

Daniel, captain and No 8 all season, is the most wholehearted of players and last season his attacking spark and slick off-loading helped the Sharks reach the Super Rugby final.

But this year, after a slow start following injury, he has had a dreadful run, coughing up possession, conceding penalties and missing tackles. His struggles could be the result of his team’s patchy form, battle fatigue or the off-field distractions, but Bashford and Reece-Edwards are certainly aware their captain is out of sorts. And waiting in the wings is former Bok No 8 Ryan Kankowski, who was in the College Rovers side that thumped Maritzburg Collegians by 80 points on Friday night.

The Sharks have just two games to play — against the Bulls on Saturday night and the Kings in Durban next weekend — and the part-time coaches will be reluctant to make a radical change at this late stage of the campaign.

The compromise, perhaps, is to relieve Daniel of the pressures of captaincy — with Bismarck du Plessis possibly taking over — in the hope that the ­No 8 will regain some of his old sharpness.

The two coaches, patching up holes in midfield, might also opt to switch Pat Lambie to inside centre with Butch James at flyhalf.

Reece-Edwards said yesterday that the Sharks found themselves in uncharted waters this week.

“It’s unknown not to pick up an injury or two on a Saturday,” he said in mock surprise. “Can you believe that we have last week’s squad available again?”

He said the bad news was that none of the long list of injured backs was yet ready but centre Meyer Bosman and wing J.P. Pietersen could return next week.

“There is also the possibility that [centre] Tim Whitehead will be ready for the last game, but this week we’re still short among the backs.

“Ryan Kankowski is back after playing a club game and he adds to the growing number of forwards we can choose from.”

Reece-Edwards said that Lambie would not be too concerned by his indifferent form against the Auckland Blues last Saturday.

“It is probably the only off-day he has had the entire year. He’s settled now after being away with the Springboks and I don’t think there will be any problems this weekend. It’s always a pleasure kicking up on the highveld, so I’m sure he’ll relish that.”

The Sharks coach said that hooker Du Plessis was ready to start after three weeks of play (twice for the Springboks and once for the Sharks).

“He knows where he fits into the side. He’s ready to start or, alternatively, if he plays off the bench, he will certainly provide some good stealing opportunities.

“He’s a great guy to provide experience. He’s an enforcer, so whatever role he plays, he will help the side.”

The match kicks off at 7.15 pm on

Saturday.

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