Waratahs expecting high-ball barrage

2008-04-23 00:00

Sydney is still in the grip of wet weather, which is following both the Sharks and Waratahs everywhere they go, although a dry day is predicted for Saturday’s crunch match between the second and third-placed Super 14 sides.

What the Waratahs are expecting from the Sharks is a bombardment of high balls.

“The Sharks have got an extensive kicking game and it is something we will have to deal with,” Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie said yesterday.

“We are looking forward to a bright night on Saturday … but yeah, I think the rain will be replaced by high balls,” he added.

The Waratahs will name their side today, but still have concerns over Rocky Elsom and Timana Tahu.

The Shark have their own concerns, with Bradley Barritt still uncertain and his fitness will be assessed at training later today. Should he play, Waylon Murray will drop out, and if not, Murray and Francois Steyn will play in midfield.

Steven Sykes departed from Sydney yesterday morning to return to Durban after injuring ankle ligaments, which will not heal in time for the Crusaders game. Albert van den Berg will play in his place, and in the final change to last week’s team, Jannie du Plessis joins brother Bismarck in the front row, with Bok prop BJ Botha shifting to the bench.

Dick Muir has named five forwards amongst the replacements, with Jean Deysel, who flew over to replace suspended Epi Taione, getting his first call-up on tour. A complete back-up front row, with backs Ruan Pienaar and Adi Jacobs covering the seven backline positions complete the bench.

“Brad may play, that’s the only concern we have,” said Sharks coach Dick Muir. “But it’s a big blow for us losing Steven Sykes. Having lost Epi Taione and now Sykes, players who are both big ball-carriers, limits us.”

The Sharks have put the disappointment of the loss to the Brumbies behind them and are focused for the match ahead.

“You tend to learn more out of a loss than you do out of a win, so we’ve had a good opportunity to reflect on what happened,” said Muir.

“We’ve put that down to decision-making, where we ended up playing as individuals in the second half and also just made fundamental little mistakes.

“We’ve moved on.”

The match on Saturday kicks off at 11.40 am (SA time).

Sharks Starting Line-up: 15. Stefan Terblanche 14. Odwa Ndungane 13. Waylon Murray/Bradley Barritt 12. Francois Steyn 11. JP Pietersen 10. Frederic Michalak 9. Rory Kockott 8. Ryan Kankowski

7. Jacques Botes 6. Keegan Daniel 5. Johann Muller (Captain) 4. Albert van den Berg 3. Jannie du Plessis 2. Bismarck du Plessis 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden 17. Deon Carstens 18. BJ Botha 19. AJ Venter 20. Jean Deysel 21. Ruan Pienaar 22. Adrian Jacobs.

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