Sharks set for tough run of matches after bye

2013-03-26 00:00

THE Sharks are expecting flank Johan Deysel and centre Tim Whitehead to return to the squad ahead of their next Super Rugby outing against the Crusaders at King’s Park at the end of next week.

The Sharks have a bye this Easter weekend and then meet the seven-time Super Rugby champions, Crusaders, on Friday, April 5.

Assistant Sharks coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said he was hopeful the pair would be ready next week.

“It will be fantastic if they do return because it adds to the depth … and there were a few bruised bodies after the Rebels game.”

The flip side is that the Sharks have two fresh injury concerns with flank Marcell Coetzee suffering mild concussion, while wing Lwazi Mvovo may have fractured a bone in his wrist during Saturday’s game.

Details of the injuries are expected today.

Reece-Edwards said the Sharks faced “a hard slog” after the bye with eight games before the June break.

“But in that time, we should also get Bismarck du Plessis, Willem Alberts and Butch James back. If we can get those three back, plus Whitehead and Deysel, that’s a third of our team back and it will allow us to freshen up the squad.”

Reece-Edwards said Saturday’s lopsided win over the Rebels (64-7) had to be put in perspective.

“We played some excellent rugby, put the Rebels under pressure and forced the turnovers we’ve been looking for a long time.

“But while we were good, they were poor. This wasn’t the best Rebels’ side and we can’t say that after scoring 10 tries we’re a great side.

Reece-Edwards said there would be no problem motivating the team for the Crusaders game.

“There will be no shortage of passion because our guys always want to measure themselves against the Crusaders who have been New Zealand’s best side in the history of the competition.

“But we can go into the Crusaders’ game having ticked a few more boxes and there is fresh confidence in the squad.”

He said the Sharks were a bonus point or two short of where they would like to be, before their bye.

“We’ll take the four wins out of five games and now have three tough and vital games [against the Crusaders, the Stormers in Cape Town and the Cheetahs in Durban] before we tour New Zealand and Australia.”

The Sharks will be relieved that the Crusaders will be without a couple of their high-profile All Blacks for the early April game.

All Black skipper Richie McCaw is on a lengthy sabbatical, flyhalf Dan Carter is on baby duty back in New Zealand and current Crusaders captain and Test number eight Kieran Read tore ligaments in his big toe against the Kings and has also stayed at home.

“It is hugely disappointing that Kieran cannot join the team to South Africa,” Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said. “He has been playing some brilliant rugby this season and it is unfortunate that this injury will keep him out of the game.”

Jordan Taufua was named to replace Read in the Crusaders’ 26-man touring squad and fellow loose forward George Whitelock has taken over as captain.

The Crusaders face the Stormers on Saturday before playing the Sharks.

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