Sharks confident Kockott should be fit for Saturday

2009-03-26 00:00

While the Sharks are unlikely to tamper with their winning squad, the Brumbies are waiting anxiously on the fitness of Wallaby centre Stirling Mortlock ahead of Saturday evening's Super 14 outing at King's Park.

The Sharks' only injury worry is Rory Kockott, who damaged an ankle in the Perth win over the Force at the weekend, but assistant coach Grant Bashford is confident the scrumhalf will be fit.

"I've just seen Rory and he seems to be recovering well," Bashford said yesterday. "We will monitor him, but he should be ready."

The Sharks are likely to stay with the same team that played in Perth apart, perhaps, from the usual rotational selections in the front-row.

The Brumbies may have to do without their inspirational Wallaby centre Stirling Mortlock, who suffered two "corked" thighs in a sickening collision during the team's 25-17 weekend defeat to the Lions at Ellis Park.

Mortlock, who has been unable to practise freely this week, said that he would make a final decision before team training today.

The Brumbies, like the Sharks, had a day off yesterday, but Mortlock and coach Andy Friend said the starting XV would practise together today.

"If I can't train with the team, then that'll be it," Mortlock told reporters. "To be honest it's still pretty sore so I've just got to let the rehabilitation take its course, but I'm still not well enough to train properly yet.

"I'll see how it goes the next two days, but I've been around long enough to know that if you're not right by the Thursday, you're generally not sufficiently right by game day and I won't jeopardise the team by giving myself too long before we make a decision."

Mortlock attempted to keep playing with the injury against the Lions, but could not take any weight on his legs and left the field shortly afterwards.

"I'm doing everything possible to try and be right in time, but I'm certainly not a guaranteed starter."

Friend is desperately keen to field Mortlock, who has played every game for the Brumbies this season.

"It would be a significant boost for us if Stirling was able to play because he's such an integral part of the team," Friend said.

"But we won't play him if he's not right to play or if he can't train with the team."

Adam Ashley-Cooper is likely to switch to centre from wing if Mortlock stands down, with former Sharks player Clyde Rathbone, who has had a long battle with injury, promoted from the bench.

Saturday's match kicks off at 5 pm, with New Zealander Bryce Lawrence, who refereed the Perth game last Saturday, again in charge.

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