Daniel back in training

2013-03-13 00:00

THE Sharks are facing a mini-loose forward crisis with flanks Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes ruled out of Saturday’s Super Rugby outing aginst the log-leading Brumbies at King’s Park.

The Sharks started the season with six quality loose forwards, but immediately lost Willem Alberts and Keegan Daniel to fairly serious injuries. Deysel and Botes have now joined them and both are likely to be sidelined for three to four weeks.

The one piece of good news, according to coach John Plumtree, is that Daniel was fully involved at training yesterday and he could be an unexpected inclusion, as flank and captain, in the team for Saturday night.

“Jean Deysel has ankle ligament damage, which is not good news for him or us,” said Plumtree.

“He needs another scan, but we’re confident he will be back after the bye over the Easter weekend.”

Plumtree said it was a blow for the powerful flank, who was showing excellent form and had worked long and hard on his rehabilitation following serious knee injury.

Jacques Botes has a suspected cracked wrist and he should be out for the same length of time, he added.

“But Keegan [Daniel] went really well this morning, so we’re hoping he might be able to make a return on Saturday. And that will ease some of the pain.

“If Keegan comes back, we’ll be alright, but we will definitely have to draft someone in from the Sharks XV squad to play off the bench.”

Plumtree said that Daniel, if cleared to play, could start and will then take over from Frans Steyn as the captain.

“Keegan is a naturally fit guy. He might find it a bit tough because he hasn’t played in a while, but he’ll back himself.

“Pieter-Steph [Du Toit] can play at loose forward as well, but I’m happier to keep devloping him as a lock.

“Still, if push came to shove, I could play him at blindside [flank].”

Plumtree conceded that Steyn had struggled against the Kings in Port Elizabeth.

“He had a bad week last week. He had a neck injury and wasn’t feeling good and even in the warm-up he was struggling a bit.

“I could tell by the way he was playing that he wasn’t happy in the game, so I got him off and Meyer [Bosman] came on. Frans is feeling a lot better this week and I’m sure he’ll be alright.”

Plumtree said he could be making “one or two [unforced] changes” to the backline.

“Our attack is not functioning as well as we would like and that’s disappointing for us and them.

“But the forwards also have some responsibility in terms of how we play on attack and they let themselves down in certain areas. We have identified that and had a good training session this morning.”

One change could be at scrumhalf where the experienced and fiercely committed Charl McLeod is likely to return for Cobus Reinach who has lost some of his sharpness at the base of the scrum.

“We’re back at home and looking forward to playing well in front of our supporters,” the Sharks coach said.

“Playing rugby at this time of year in Durban is not the easiest and there will still be some kicking.”

Plumtree said the Brumbies were the strongest of the Australian teams and deserved their place at the top of the log.

“They spend a lot of time on attack with their good ball retention and defensively they’re really well organised.

“This is going to be a real test for us on the weekend. We have a good side, not our strongest, but we’re three from three, playing at home and we’ll give it a go.”

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm and — for the third time this season — Jonathan Kaplan will referee a Sharks game.

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