Sharks have bite without Boks

2008-05-29 00:00

The Sharks have eight of their players away, with Peter de Villiers’s 30-man Springbok squad, but they will nevertheless field a potent Currie Cup squad.

New Sharks coach John Plumtree will have at least nine internationals available for the Currie Cup and one of them could be French ace, Frederic Michalak.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said yesterday that the chances of Michalak signing on for the Currie Cup season looked promising.

Michalak was sidelined midway through the Super 14 with a serious knee injury, but Van Zyl said yesterday that he could be ready for the Sharks’ second Currie Cup game, against Boland on June 27.

“The latest reports on his injury are encouraging. If he can play as soon as that, then we will contract him for the Currie Cup.”

Flyhalf is the one position where the Sharks appear vulnerable. The three obvious selections, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Steyn and Adrian Jacobs, who have played in the pivot role before, are in the Bok squad and the return of Michalak would be a massive boost for the Sharks.

With scrumhalf Rory Kockott curiously overlooked by the Bok selectors, the Sharks could have their first-choice Super 14 halfbacks available for the Currie Cup.

They will also have the familiar combination of Brad Barritt and Waylon Murray in midfield and a Bok back three of JP Pietersen, Henno Mentz and Stefan Terblanche.

With lock Johann Muller, prop Jannie du Plessis and flank Jacques Botes also surprisingly omitted, competition for places in the forwards remains intense.

Two Boks, Deon Carstens and Du Plessis, could prop the scrum with the young and promising Patric Cilliers, back from a serious knee injury, providing back-up. Craig Burden is likely to replace Bismarck du Plessis, while Muller and Steve Sykes are obvious selections at lock with Albert van den Berg playing off the bench.

Jean Deysel, similar in build and approach to AJ Venter, is likely to replace Ryan Kankowski, with flanks Botes and Keegan Daniel providing lively support.

Veteran utility forward Venter, who travelled with the Sharks for the Super 14 semi-final with a broken thumb, but then withdrew on the eve of the game, has now joined Western Province and he will be fit to play against his old team-mates in the opening match at King’s Park on June 20.

Possible Sharks Currie Cup team:

Stefan Terblanche, Henno Mentz, Waylon Murray, Brad Barritt, JP Pietersen, Frederic Michalak, Rory Kockott, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller, Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Craig Burden and Deon Carstens.

Sharks’ fixtures (home team first):

June 2008

20 Sharks v WP, 7.10 pm

27 Sharks v Boland, 7 pm

July 2008

5 Blue Bulls v Sharks, 5.05 pm

11 Sharks v Falcons, 7.10 pm

19 FS Cheetahs v Sharks, 5.05 pm

26 Sharks v Lions, 5.05 pm

August 2008

2 Griquas v Sharks, Absa Park, 3 pm

9 WP v Sharks, 5.05 pm

29 Boland v Sharks, 4 pm

September 2008

6 Sharks v Blue Bulls, 5.05

13 Sharks v FS Cheetahs, 5.05 pm

20 Falcons v Sharks, 3 pm

27 Lions v Sharks, 5.05

October 2008

4 Sharks v Griquas, 3 pm

11 Semi-finals 1st v 4th;

2nd v 3rd

25 Final. — sharksrugby.co.za

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