Sharks’ sick bay hard at work for Saturday

2008-07-15 00:00

THE Sharks squad ahead of Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup clash with the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein resembles the walking wounded.

Coach John Plumtree is likely to name a side later in the week that contains a number of “ifs”, “buts” and brackets as he waits for the maybes, the possibles and the probables.

The worst news is that Rory Kockott is definitely out of this match. “Rory has a break in his foot,” confirmed the coach yesterday. “The first scan missed the crack in his fibia, and he will be out for another three weeks.”

Plumtree added, “Preparations are going well and there is a lot of hard work taking place at the moment, but we have some guys coming back, some running on the side, some can’t run, so it hasn’t been easy with the number of injuries we have. We just have to work hard at getting guys back.”

Bradley Barritt is definitely out, while Deon Carstens — who has not yet trained this week — will be assessed later in the week.

Frederic Michalak came through Friday night’s 20 minutes against the Valke without complaint and is in line for selection, while Jean Deysel, his hand strapped to protect a broken finger, did train and a late call will be made on him.

Steven Sykes also came through the morning session unscathed and the medical and coaching staff will hold their collective breath to see if he holds up.

With the coach missing almost a full side to injuries and the Springbok cause, it doesn’t make his job any easier.

“I was hoping for more continuity,” admitted Plumtree of his predicament.

“I was happy with the group, but injuries have affected that. Last year we were in quite a similar situation, but we did have some X-factor players who this year have gone to the Springboks — guys like Odwa, Beast and Ryan and hopefully in the next week or so we will get back a few Springboks that are out of Saturday’s match 22.”

The Cheetahs have come off consecutive losses and will know that they need to pick things up. “They’re waiting for us and will know we have a few problems,” said Plumtree. “In the past, there have been some pretty good contests between us. Last year we lost in the last minute, so the side we’re taking will have a go.”

He admitted that he cannot fathom how the breeding ground in the Free State produces such massive players. “They have some really big boys — it’s amazing the size of some of them. As one big guy drops out, so another just as big replaces him. Our forwards will need to muscle up, this will be a big tester for us.”

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