Concern over Alberts

2013-10-11 00:00

THE Sharks are hoping that Springbok flank Willem Alberts, who injured his neck in the weekend Rugby Championship international against the All Blacks, will be ready to play in next weekend’s Currie Cup semi-final at King’s Park.

Western Province and the Sharks have confirmed home semi-finals next week and will vie for top spot when they meet at King’s Park tomorrow night. The Golden Lions and Free State are almost certain to complete the semi-final line-up.

The Sharks medical team said yesterday that the injury to Alberts, who was stretchered off the field at Ellis Park and not considered for tomorrow’s game, was “not serious” and his fitness would be reassessed early next week.

Springbok centre Frans Steyn, who has been out training with the Sharks after an extended knee injury break, is continuing with his rehabilitation but no date has been placed on his return.

Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli confirmed yesterday that both hooker Craig Burden and full/centre Louis Ludik had been released to play for French clubs.

Burden, who last month had a trial with Toulon, has now signed a contract with the Top 14 club, Straeuli said. Ludik, named on the Sharks’ bench for tomorrow’s game, will see out the Currie Cup season before joining Agen.

Sitting alongside Ludik on the bench against Province will be Sharks’ veteran flank Jacques Botes who hopes to take the field and break the South African record for the most Currie Cup appearances.

The 32-year-old would win his 143rd cap, breaking the record he now shares with Free State centre Helgard Muller.

“It would be really humbling to get to the record,” he told reporters in Durban. “In time, I’ll look back and treasure the fact that I was able to be associated with a great competition like the Currie Cup for so long and my name will be written in its history.

“I’m sure one day someone will come along and better the record too, but until then it will be really nice to hold the record.”

The superbly-conditioned Botes, who has captained the Sharks regularly this season, has been a consistent performer for the Sharks (116 caps) and is considered one of the fittest players in the squad.

He made his Currie Cup debut for the Pumas (26 appearances) back in 2002 before moving to Durban.

While the veteran Muller, a Springbok centre, played until he was 35 in establishing the record, Botes still has a couple of seasons in his legs and hopes to extend his contract with the Sharks.

Botes said there were two reasons why he overtook Muller in just over a decade.

“Helgard had to play for more years because he played fewer games every season,” said Botes who has stayed injury-free and has not played for the Springboks.

“Nowadays if you play for the Springboks you don’t play a lot of Currie Cup while I have also been blessed injury-wise.”

He said he was in talks with the Sharks to continue with his career next year.

“The new management are looking at a process where the union benefits by having senior and experienced players here to help with the next batch of players,” Botes said.

“I’m hoping I’ll be one of those guys and look forward to a few more years of playing.”

Tomorrow’s Currie Cup fixtures

Lions vs Griquas, 3.00 pm

Free State vs Blue Bulls, 5.05 pm

Sharks vs WP, 7.10 pm.

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