Sharks also lose Pienaar to Boks

2008-08-26 00:00

SPRINGBOK demands have again disrupted the Sharks as they prepare for Friday’s Currie Cup game against Boland in Wellington.

The Sharks have returned fresh from a three-week break, but this week they have lost three players to Bok coach Peter de Villiers. Wing Odwa Ndungane and prop Jannie du Plessis have been called dup as replacements for the injured JP Pietersen and the suspended CJ van der Linde, while scrumhalf and utility back Ruan Pienaar is now also with the national squad.

Pienaar’s absence has forced Sharks coach John Plumtree to start with his fourth-choice scrumhalf, Charl McLeod, against Boland. McLeod, the lively former Falcons scrumhalf, has played behind Pienaar, Rory Kockott and Scott Mathie this season.

Plumtree said that Kockott, who suffered a fractured bone in his leg, is still suffering from some discomfort, but he will be on the bench on Friday.

“Charl has been in and out of the squad and this is a good game for us to see what he can do. He is an exciting attacking player and a good defender, but it is his decision-making that we will be watching closely in Wellington.”

Plumtree said the promising young front-row forward Patric Cilliers, who has been out of top flight rugby for a year following a serious knee injury and surgery, will be back to prop up the scrum with Deon Carstens.

But the Sharks will be without injured captain Johann Muller and Albert van den Berg and Alistair Hargreaves are expected to lock the scrum.

Plumtree said there will be some five changes to the side that beat Western Province at Newlands last time out and there will be more next week, when he expects to have a number of Boks back in Currie Cup action.

Plumtree said the constant changes because of Bok call-ups and injuries is not ideal — “sometimes it’s felt like we are putting out a pub team seeing who is available late in the week

“But if you have a core of good leaders and everyone paddles in same direction, you can overcome this problem.”

The Sharks coach said he is looking forward to having his Boks back with a five-game run-in to the play-offs.

“There will be a stand-down period for some of the Boks, but not all of them.”

He said Springbok captain John Smit, who underwent surgery on his groin last month, will be back in about three weeks while he is hoping that Ryan Kankowski will be available next week when the Sharks face the Blue Bulls in Durban.

Friday’s kick-off is at 4 pm and the match will be televised on SuperSport.

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