Viljoen at flyhalf a bonus for Sharks

2012-08-24 00:00

THE success of Riaan Viljoen, playing out of position at flyhalf, has been an unexpected bonus for the Sharks in their opening two Currie Cup games and he will again have a key role to play in tomorrow’s clash against the Blue Bulls at Loftus.

Viljoen has played most of his rugby at fullback for Griquas, the Cheetahs and the Sharks, but he has proved highly effective at flyhalf in the opening fortnight of the Currie Cup.

Coach John Plumtree said that be believed that Viljoen, elusive but lacking genuine pace, was more at home when closer to the action.

And so it has proved in the Currie Cup as Grant Bashford, the Sharks assistant coach, pointed out this week. “The blend of youth and experience in the backline has been a real positive and Riaan Viljoen has looked really comfortable at flyhalf,” he said.

“It was one of those positions where we were a bit thin in after losing Pat [Lambie] to the Boks and Fred [Michalak] back to France.”

Viljoen is a prodigious kicker but he has also been lively on attack and has varied his play astutely. His commitment cannot be faulted and he has defended strongly while even a heavy, if accidental, kick to the head by Lions’ flyhalf Butch James did not deter him on Saturday night.

Bashford said the coaching staff had been impressed by the form of the Sharks backline.

“We rested [scrumhalf] Charl McLeod in the first week and Cobus Reinach had an opportunity and he played very well.”

He said that Meyer Bosman, who will miss the Loftus game because of a knee injury, had added much-needed experience in the midfield.

“Paul Jordaan [outside centre] is young and inexperienced at this level but brings a whole lot of X-factor which has been evident every time he has played for us.

“S’Bura Sithole is growing as a wing while Odwa Ndungane is hitting form at the right time. Louis Ludik had a great Super Rugby campaign and is carrying that through.

“So overall, we’re pretty happy with where the backs are at the moment …”

But, of course, Loftus tomorrow will be all about the battle at forward and that is where the Blue Bulls will test the young Sharks.

“We have both been hit by Springbok selections but it is always a physical contest between us and I think we can expect the same on the weekend,” he said.

Tomorrow’s Currie Cup games (home team first):

Griquas vs Cheetahs (3.00 pm).

Lions vs WP (5.05 pm).

Blue Bulls vs Sharks (7.10 pm).

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