Sharks await tests on lock

2011-10-18 00:00

SPRINGBOK flank Jean Deysel, who has been playing at lock for the Sharks in recent weeks, is John Plumtree’s major injury concern ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against Free State at King’s Park.

Deysel suffered a groin strain during the Sharks’ final pool game against the Lions at the weekend and team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde said a decision on his fitness will be made later in the week, possibly only on Friday.

“The injury is not serious, but Jean would be our biggest worry at this stage,” said Van der Linde.

Two other players, wing Lwazi Mvovo and centre Adi Jacobs, are both nursing hamstring strains and Van der Linde said they will also face late fitness tests.

“Lwazi’s hamstring is not serious and Adi is about 50/50,” he added.

The Sharks, boosted by the return of seven Springboks, do have options. Burly loose forward Willem Alberts, who replaced Deysel in the second half against the Lions, could remain at lock while Plumtree has two World Cup wings in JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane should Mvovo be sidelined.

If Mvovo is fit then Plumtree could use Ndungane at fullback with Pat Lambie at inside centre.

Sharks’ assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said yesterday the RWC Springboks provided the squad with a vital lift against the Lions and ahead of the play-offs.

“We didn’t really know what impact they would have, but our game hadn’t reached the sort of levels we wanted and we needed a little bit of that extra firepower,” he said.

“It was not just the grunt they provided, but also the way they lifted the other guys to play at the same level. That was fantastic.”

Reece-Edwards said the attitude of the Springboks was impressive.

“The best thing was that the guys that returned all wanted to play. It wasn’t a case of us begging them to play or asking them for their help, and it showed in the game. They fitted in seamlessly after most of them only got back to Durban on Wednesday night and the squad has come together nicely.”

He said that the first half against the Lions was always going to be tougher and more physical, with the second half presenting more opportunities.

“We dominated the way we were hoping to in the first half and the Boks’ physicality then made a difference in the second half.

Reece-Edwards said the coaches were also happy that, by way of a change, the Sharks had “won well rather than ugly”.

“We were composed when we needed to be, we put on pressure when we had to, our tackle stats were up there and some good hits were made. Our tactical kicking was very good and we turned the opposition. And when they came at us, we managed to handle them and prevent them scoring.”

Both Plumtree and Reece-Edwards said they hoped the impressive showing would encourage the Sharks supporters to turn up on Saturday.

“As a former player, I know the value of a good and vocal crowd: In the Lions’ game, it was the first time I’ve heard singing in a long time and it would be fantastic to get a good crowd on Saturday.”

Saturday’s match kicks off at 2.30 pm (to allow for extra-time) with the Lions-WP semi-final at Ellis Park at 5 pm.

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