JP Pietersen flown home for surgery

2011-03-07 00:00

SEVENS Springbok Mark Richards will fly to Melbourne this week to replace the injured JP Pietersen in the touring Sharks Super Rugby squad.

The Sharks, who climbed to the top of the Super Rugby log with their 39-12 win over the Western Force on Saturday, flew to Melbourne yesterday ahead of Friday’s outing against the Rebels.

Head coach John Plumtree said yesterday that Pietersen had a suffered a meniscus cartilage tear and had flown back to Durban.

“He’ll probably be operated on Tuesday and we are hoping that it won’t be as bad as it sounds and that he’ll be ready in four or five weeks. But we will only know after surgery.”

Plumtree said that Richards, the former Michaelhouse wing, is in Cape Town with the SA sevens squad.

“We hope to have him with us later in week.”

The news about wing Odwa Ndungane, who was felled in spear tackle by Force centre Rory Sidey after 18 minutes and stretchered off, is more encouraging.

“We are hoping he will be fine to play the Rebels on Friday night. Much of the treatment Odwa received on Saturday was precautionary but we will test him during the week. He has undergone tests in hospital and he was 100% this morning.”

Force centre Sidey is still suffering after the tackle, and the straight red card, and he will face a Sanzar judicial hearing today.

What might save Sidey from a long suspension is that Force team-mate Gene Fairbanks also contributed to Ndungane’s awkward landing.

“Maybe if he had been the only tackler, the outcome mightn’t have been as bad,’’ Plumtree told Australian journalists.

“Looking at the tackle, I think the guy that went high [Fairbanks] made the incident look worse because of the fact that he brought him down. They teamed up on him and the tackle didn’t look too good.

“But the law’s pretty clear. If you lift a player off the ground you have to bring him down. It’s a dangerous tackle.

“Often it spoils a contest [when a red card is given] but it didn’t ruin this one because the Force played pretty good rugby with 14 men,’’ Plumtree said.

The Force ended the game with 13 men when wing Nick Cummins was sin-binned for a late and high challenge on Sharks fullback Louis Ludik in the closing minutes.

Plumtree said that he was disappointed that the Force appeared determined to rough up the Sharks.

“They looked like they came out to give us a physical hard time and they had talked about a physical battle all through the week. Clearly they got over emotional in some of the collisions.

“The red card changed the contest a lot when they were down to 14 men and that changed their intent as well. They then ran the ball from everywhere, which made it pretty exciting to watch, I guess.”

Plumtree said that number eight Ryan Kankowski had been unwell during the week and this resulted in Jacques Botes starting the game.

He said that Botes was still struggling with a rib injury but would be ready for the Rebels, while Willem Alberts was no more than a “bit bruised and battered”.

The Sharks coach said he thought the Sharks had played “pretty well”.

“We kept the ball for long periods at time though there were times when we were a little impatient and took the ball out wide too early. We need to be a little more accurate down the middle.

Plumtree said that the players were tired “but now that we’re into the second week of the tour, there will be more energy after getting over the jet-lag”.

Last year the Sharks lost their first five games, Plumtree said the players are aware that there is a fine line between success and failure.

“It is obviously enjoyable to be winning, but we have to make sure that we prepare well, that the attitude is right on the day so we give ourselves the best chance of winning. So it’s ticking those boxes through the week, so when hit the the Rebels on Friday night everything is again in place.”

Super Rugby round-up:page 18

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