Sharks well-covered in case injuries linger, says Plumtree

2011-03-08 00:00

WESTERN Force centre Rory Sidey, who felled Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane with a spear tackle at the weekend, was yesterday suspended for three weeks.

Sidey appeared before a Sanzar judicial hearing yesterday and was found guilty on the charge of a dangerous tackle on Ndungane during Saturday’s game.

Both Sidey, with an immediate red card, and Ndungane, on a stretcher, left the field after just 18 minutes of Saturday’s game which was won 39-12 by the Sharks.

While the Force centre, who pleaded guilty, will now be sidelined for the next three rounds, Sharks head coach John Plumtree expects Ndungane to be fit to play in Friday’s game against the Rebels in Melbourne.

JP Pietersen has returned to Durban to undergo a knee cartilage operation, but Plumtree said yesterday that he has cover on the wings.

“We’re hoping Odwa is going to be fine for the weekend and we have Lwazi Mvovo. We’re trying to get Mark Richards over as soon as possible, but he probably won’t be considered for this weekend’s game.”

Plumtree also has the option of playing either centre Stefan Terblanche or fullback Louis Ludik on the wing if Ndungane is rested, while the versatility of flyhalves Pat Lambie and Jacques-Louis Potgieter could also be exploited if there has to be a backline reshuffle.

The Sharks coach said that flank Jean Deysel would not join the squad in Australia, but may fly to New Zealand for the final two tour games against the Chiefs and the Crusaders.

“Bismarck du Plessis took a bit of a whack on the knee and we are hoping he’ll be ready by Wednesday, Pat [Lambie] has a bit of a sore calf muscle and he’ll have a bit of rest early this week. Otherwise we’re not too bad,” Plumtree said.

The Sharks are flying high at the top of the Super Rugby log, but Plumtree has his feet on the ground.

“We have had a good run of form, particularly when you think of last year, but it is important to remain grounded. We’ve been in this position before, when we’ve been winning and then gone through a losing patch.

“Last year we first lost [five in a row] before we started winning [seven out of eight]. We know the media [in Melbourne] will write us up and that’s fine, but we’re not going to read too much into that. We know we need to focus on improving and getting better.

The Sharks’ game on Friday kicks off at 10.40 am (SA time) and New Zealander Steve Walsh will handle the game.

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