Skeate to be out for weeks

2012-03-16 00:00

THE Sharks’ hard-working and experienced lock Ross Skeate has suffered a neck injury that will keep him out of tomorrow evening’s Super Rugby game against the title-holding Queensland Reds and the four-match tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Skeate had recovered from the hip injury that took him from the field against the Lions last Saturday, but he has now been diagnosed with a neck injury.

“Ross has a disc lesion in his neck, nothing serious, but it can go at any time,” team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde said yesterday.

“He has no symptoms and no pain, but some weakness in the arm. We are resting him for a week on the advice of the specialist and will then test him again next week to see if there is still weakness.”

Even if the condition has improved, the team doctor said, Skeate would be rested for two to three weeks.

“If there is no improvement, he will probably require surgery to remove the disc,” Van der Linde added.

This is a blow for coach John Plumtree — he is already without injured Springbok lock Alistair Hargreaves for the tour — but he does have some young back-up.

Anton Bresler, who proved an effective replacement against the Lions, will take over from Skeate in the second-row with Jandre Marais, who captained the Sharks XV and scored three tries against Border at the weekend, providing cover off the bench.

“Jandre has been going really well and we have a lot of confidence in his ability,” said Plumtree. “We also have Pieter-Steph du Toit as back-up, so we have some good young locks.”

Plumtree has made two other changes to the starting line-up with the robust Charl McLeod taking over from Frederic Michalak at scrumhalf and Springbok tighthead Jannie du Plessis returning for Wiehahan Herbst.

“Jannie du Plessis comes back into the side and it’s a good opportunity [against the champion Reds] for him to have a start,” Plumtree said.

“Wiehahn has been going really well so he’ll provide that impact off the bench. And it’s the same scenario with Charl McLeod who also gets an opportunity this weekend.”

Louis Ludik returns on the bench “to give Paul Jordaan some game time with the Sharks XV against WP in the Vodacom Cup and that is important”, said Plumtree.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, wanting to add an attacking edge to his side, has made six changes to his starting line-up. The most significant is at flyhalf where playmaker Ben Lucas has gained selection ahead of Mike Harris who switches to inside centre. Jono Lance drops out of the squad. Rod Davies takes over at fullback with Luke Morahan relegated to the bench.

Up front, loosehead prop Greg Holmes and lock Van Humphries start for the first time this season while open side flanker Beau Robinson and the 118 kg number eight Radike Samo, the Reds’ answer to Willem Alberts, return to the starting XV.

“Ben Lucas has been training at flyhalf since the beginning of pre-season last year and has featured there in all three of our games so far,” McKenzie said yesterday. “We have been pleased with the change of tempo and skills he has shown in those opportunities and feel he can offer something different against the Sharks.

“Van and Greg are also experienced campaigners that have impressed us in the chances they’ve been given. We feel Beau and Radike are best suited to executing what we want to accomplish from the start of the game,” he added.

 

TEAMS

Sharks – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Louis Ludik.

Reds - 15 Rod Davies, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Van Humphries, 4 James Horwill (c), 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.

Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Luke Morahan.

Kick-off: 5.05 pm. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan.

 

This weekend’s games (home team first, SA times):

Today:

Chiefs vs Brumbies, 8.35 am.

Stormers vs Blues, 7.10 pm.

Tomorrow:

Hurricanes vs Highlanders, 8.35 am

Waratahs vs Force, 10.40am.

Sharks vs Reds, 5.05 pm.

Sunday:

Rebels vs Cheetahs, 7.10 am.

Byes: Lions, Bulls and Crusaders.

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