Sharks coach ‘uncertain’ about White rumours

2013-10-02 00:00

THE log-leading Sharks will field close to their strongest available line-up in Friday night’s Currie Cup outing against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson said yesterday that returning flanks Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel would join captain Keegan Daniel in the backrow.

He said that it seemed likely that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer would release flank Marcell Coetzee from the Rugby Championship squad, “and he will probably play off the bench”.

The Sharks coach said that fullback/centre Louis Ludick would also be back in the mix and included among the replacements.

“Heimar [Williams] and Tim [White­head] have played very well together and struck up a good partnership in the midfield.”

Macleod-Henderson was enthusiastic about the recent form of young flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, who scored 21 points for the Sharks in their 31-25 win over the Lions on Friday.

“Fred’s two drop-goals could be seen as the difference between the two teams.

“It was not just him getting a full-house [try, conversions, penalties and drops] of points scoring. He’s been phenomenal for us this season and it’s just been great to see someone realise their potential and take the opportunities to score points.”

The Sharks (28 points) head the Currie Cup log with WP (28) and they clash in Durban in the final round of league play the following weekend.

The Lions, on 21 points, the Cheetahs (17) and the Bulls (16) are in a scrap for the final two semi-final positions.

“The Bulls at home will be desperate to keep their semi-final hopes alive. They would have known last week that they needed three wins to get a semi­final place, and they played a fantastic game against Griquas to get the result they wanted.

“That will give them a lot of confidence.”

Macleod-Henderson said he could add little to the speculation of whether former World Cup-winning coach Jake White would be joining the Sharks. It is believed that the current director of rugby, Brendan Venter, will resign after the Currie Cup and the Sharks are hoping to sign White as head coach ahead of the Super Rugby season.

“We all know he’s a fantastic coach and it would be great for us to have him in the system, and be in a position to pick his brain.

“We’re not too certain as to what’s going to develop, besides what we’ve read, which is that there might be an opportunity for Jake to join the Sharks in some capacity.”

But, either way, Macleod-Henderson said that he and Sean Everitt (the backline coach) would be with the Sharks next year, and they were excited about that.

“I’ve still got two years to go on my contract. For the moment, though, we are concentrating on the Currie Cup.”

Bok wing Bjorn Basson has been released to the Bulls for Friday’s game. Basson comes in at left wing, with Sampie Mastriet dropping to the bench. Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar also made two changes to his front row. Bongi Mbonambi will start at hooker and Frik Kirsten, who recovered from a knee injury, will play as tighthead. Bandise Maku (bench) and Werner Kruger (dropped) started against Griquas last weekend.

“We are with our backs to the wall,” Pienaar said yesterday. “Last weekend in Kimberley was an important one for us, as it rewarded our good defensive efforts, while it gave confidence to our attack. We will need both those aspects to function again if we want to be competitive against the Sharks,” he said.

Blue Bulls

15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.

Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Ulrich Beyers, 22 Sampie Mastriet.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm.

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