Depth test for Sharks

2017-05-26 06:00
Garth April is well in the selection frame for the Sharks’ clash with the Sunwolves in Singapore this week.         PHOTO: gallo images

Garth April is well in the selection frame for the Sharks’ clash with the Sunwolves in Singapore this week. PHOTO: gallo images

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THERE might be no prizes for knowing what the Sharks need to accomplish against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday, but the real headache could come with selection of the starting 15.

It may sound easy with a squad of 25, but head coach Robert du Preez will have to give some serious thought, particularly to his backline, which has suddenly been decimated after last weekend’s loss to the Kings.

Curwin Bosch stepped into the flyhalf berth with growth and maturity when Pat Lambie was sidelined with a back injury and, with Bosch’s departure after the win against the Force to join the Junior Boks, the timing of Lambie’s return could not have been better.

He had 20 minutes against the Force and was reinstated as No. 10 and captain for the Kings, only to suffer his nemesis injury — concussion — when colliding with team-mate and fullback Rhyno Smith.

That meant more sideline time for Lambie, and Smith, who had taken his opportunity with aplomb, has now picked up a pectoral muscle tear.

Centre Jeremy Ward, who was relishing his opportunity at the misfortune of the six-week suspended Andre Esterhuizen, has a broken nose, which means surgery and at least five or more weeks away, and suddenly the gaps have appeared.

While Du Preez will refer to his Super Rugby squad and tap into what depth he has, particularly the youngsters who he is always keen to give an opportunity, he will have to move a few pieces to ensure stability and belief for himself and the team.

The forwards don’t look too worse for wear but looking at the backs he has at his disposal, there could be some interesting calls.

Benhard Janse van Rensburg was blooded at flyhalf against the Kings in Durban and while he has Du Preez’s backing when it comes to his talent and potential, he needs more game time at Currie Cup level and in the Sharks XV to be comfortable for Super Rugby.

This leaves Garth April who will, no doubt, get the nod for Saturday’s game.

He has a decent record for the Sharks and is the next most senior man for the role, although Van Rensburg could enjoy some game time off the bench depending on where the Sharks find themselves in the latter stages of the game.

Johan Deysel will probably slot in at centre next to Lukhanyo Am and then there is the fullback berth to fill.

Among the backs are three wings — Lwazi Mvovo, Sbu Nkosi and S’bura Sithole — and in all likelihood, it looks as though Mvovo will be at the back.

Nkosi made his debut against the Force and is recognised as a huge talent for Sharks Rugby going forward, while Sithole has yet to get a start this season.

It’s risky business for the Sharks but what other choice does Du Preez have. In the past, a player such as Odwa Ndungane has switched from wing to fullback but he is not on tour, meaning the more experienced Mvovo could get the job.

Du Preez is still seething after the loss to the Kings and it’s probably a good thing he left for Singapore soon after rather than face a testing media this week.

He has had time to ponder matters and although a man of few words, he does normally put his money where his mouth is, meaning he could surprise the pundits with some different names in his team for Saturday’s kick-off.

The forwards don’t look too worse for wear but
looking at the backs [Robert du Preez] has at his disposal, there could
be some
interesting calls.

The forwards don’t look too worse for wear but
looking at the backs [Robert du Preez] has at his disposal, there could
be some
interesting calls.

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