Sharks return on a better note, but injury worries add to pressures

2010-03-30 00:00

WHILE the Sharks have started to climb the Super 14 ladder after back-to-back wins in New Zealand, so their injury toll is mounting.

The Sharks completed their tough five-match tour of the Antipodes with a 29-26 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday, but lost their Springbok centre Adi Jacobs in the process.

Jacobs joins Johann Muller, Deon Carstens, Gerhard Mostert and Louis Ludik on the sidelines, and with no margin for error in their remaining six round-robin games, the Sharks’ depth will be tested.

Team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed yesterday that Jacobs dislocated a shoulder against the Hurricanes.

“He has still to see the specialist, but it seems he will have to undergo surgery and that will sideline him for 12 weeks,” Roberts told The Witness .

It is an injury similar to the early-season one suffered by lock Mostert, who is also out for the rest of the Super 14.

Roberts said that Bok lock Muller has undergone surgery on a finger “and wire was used to repair a dislocation right near the very tip.”

“He will probably be out for two of three more weeks.

Prop Deon Carstens, like Muller, left the tour early following injury and Roberts said he suffered a knee cartilage injury which required a operation and he would also be out for the rest of the Super 14.

Louis Ludik, the former Lions fullback and wing, is continuing with his rehabilitation following a serious knee injury and off-season surgery.

“He is being assessed on a weekly basis,” said Roberts. “He had a couple of Vodacom Cup games, but perhaps rushed things and suffered a bit of a setback when the swelling returned. He is doing well and we are building up the strength in the knee.”

The news of centre Riaan Swanepoel, who also left the field on Saturday, is more encouraging.

“He caught a boot stud up on the sternum, but the early reports are good and I expect him to be ready for Saturday,” said Roberts.

Englishman Andy Goode, contrary to reports that the flyhalf would not stay with the Sharks squad after the tour, is now in Durban.

CEO Brian van Zyl said yesterday that the Sharks are “busy organising him a work permit and he would stay with the Sharks for the Super 14”.

The Sharks made a surprisingly quick return home from Wellington, but time was on their side. Leaving New Zealand on Sunday morning (local time and Saturday evening SA time), they were back in Durban on Sunday night and now have the whole week to recover from their trip before facing the high-riding Reds at King’s Park on Saturday. The match kicks of at 5.05 pm.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has defended his team’s tactics following their loss to the Sharks.

The Hurricanes, as they have done throughout their season instead of playing for territory, ran the ball out of their quarter when the scores were level 26-26 in the final minute.

Flyhalf Aaron Cruden was finally buried by the Sharks forwards, the Hurricanes were penalised for playing the ball on the ground and Ruan Pienaar kicked the winning penalty from the halfway line.

”We had to keep the ball,” Cooper told reporters. “If there was a scrum then the game was over, so we had to keep the ball and build and hopefully get a penalty. You wouldn’t expect it to go the other way if you were a betting man.

“That’s this team. You either get them to play static rugby and kick it out or you use their strength and keep the ball and build.”

Captain Andrew Hore admitted that the Hurricanes, after four losses to South African teams on successive weekends, are running out of time if they are to reach the play-offs.

“We have to front up every game now, but we’re digging a hole and its getting deeper every week.”

Hore said his side had squandered 18 line-breaks against the Sharks.

”We are playing some reasonable rugby, but we’re a pass away from scoring, which has been the problem for the past couple of weeks.

”We just have to hold on to the ball and hopefully the bounce will go our way at some stage.”

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