Bismarck doubtful for Chiefs 'Test match'

2012-04-17 00:00

COACH John Plumtree regards this weekend’s Super Rugby outing against the top-of-the-log Chiefs in Durban on Saturday evening as the Sharks’ Test match.

The Chiefs beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend to take over as pacesetters, following the Stormers’ loss to the Crusaders in New Zealand.

Plumtree said yesterday that the Sharks would have their hands full.

“The Chiefs are arguably the best side in the competition at this stage. The Stormers are looking good, but they don’t have the attacking ability of this Chiefs side.”

Plumtree said that in past seasons the Chiefs had been defensively vulnerable and this had cost them.

“But this year the Chiefs have tightened their defence and their set pieces are going really well.”

The Chiefs’ coaches, he said, were experienced and they had done their homework in moulding together a good team. “They’ll be in the mix at the end of the tournament and we’ve got to stop them.”

Plumtree said that two of his in-form players, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and flank Marcell Coetzee, who both missed the Blues game last Friday, remained doubtful starters.

“Bismarck didn’t train today [Monday] because of an injured thigh and a nerve problem in his neck. It is wear and tear, but we’re hoping he’ll be able to train on Thursday.

“Marcell has an AC [shoulder] joint problem which isn’t serious enough to warrant surgery and we’ll also make a decision on him later in the week.”

The Sharks coach said that number eight Ryan Kankowski, recovering from a broken thumb, could turn out for the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup this week.

“Beast Mtawarira [broken ankle] is looking really good too and he should be right in a couple of weeks.”

Plumtree said he was delighted hooker Craig Burden had taken his opportunity against the Blues.

“But it would be great to also have Bismarck back in our midst.”

He said the Sharks were disappointed not to win three of their four games on tour, but they had problems with injuries to Bismarck du Plessis and Pat Lambie.

“But 11 points on a tour means we’re still in the hunt and we are one of only three sides who haven’t had our bye yet.”

“We were under a lot of pressure to get a result against the Blues in Auckland. It was a really good test for us because we knew they’d come out firing.”

He said that the travel factor (flying from Auckland to Durban) would not be a problem. “We’re fine, coming this way, from east to west and we also had the extra day because we played on Friday.”

The match at King’s Park kicks off on Saturday at 5.05 pm.

Meanwhile, Eden Park officials are continuing to review video footage in an effort to identify the spectator who threw an object at Sharks hooker Burden on Friday night.

Burden was almost hit in the head by a small rubber ball as he scored a try in the first half of his side’s 29-23 victory over the Blues. Small balls had been given to spectators before the match as part of a promotion.

Eden Park manager Tracy Morgan told reporters that the process of identifying the spectator responsible was continuing.

“We are reviewing footage and the identification of the person is something we haven’t been able to do but we are still working through that,’’ she said. “They will be banned from any future games from Eden Park.’’

Sanzar, the Sydney-based organisers of the Super Rugby competition, said they had requested further information from the Blues about the incident as the initial report from the match manager had not mentioned it.

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