JP’s injury bad news for Sharks and Boks

2013-05-20 00:00

THE Sharks, devastated by injury, have suffered another major blow with JP Pietersen, their most potent backline player, facing surgery this week.

The Sharks were mightily relieved to break their five-match losing streak by beating the Force 23-13 in Perth on Friday, but the win came at a heavy price. Centre Pietersen, suffering from a groin problem that clearly hampered him on the night, limped from the field in the second half.

Assistant Sharks coach Grant Bashford told The Witness last night that the full extent of the damage will only be known once Pietersen has a scan today.

“But we have been told that he will have to undergo surgery this week,” he said.

The Sharks returned from their tiring, largely unsuccessful four-match tour of New Zealand and Australia early yesterday and will have to recover quickly before facing the rampant Bulls at King’s Park on Saturday night.

The confident Bulls bashed and bullied their way to a 35-18 win over the Highlanders at Loftus on Saturday night and the South African conference leaders will now rather fancy a piece of the Sharks, who are missing a dozen players and are battling to stay alive in the competition.

Injury this season initially hit the Sharks in the back row and then the front row, but they are now looking most vulnerable in the midfield where they are without four specialist centres in Frans Steyn, Tim Whitehead, Paul Jordaan and Marius Joubert.

Three others — Pietersen, Butch James and Louis Ludik — who could do a job in midfield if required, are also sidelined.

Pietersen’s injury is bad news for both the Sharks and Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks.

Indeed, Pietersen may well have played his last game for the Sharks this year as he has signed to join a Japanese club at the end of the Super Rugby season.

Plumtree is obviously short of midfield options and the obvious replacement for Pietersen is Piet Lindeque, who took over in the second half against the Force.

The former junior Shark is on loan from the Bulls and Tukkies.

Bashford said that Meyer Bosman, who partnered Pietersen in midfield, suffered a badly broken nose early in Friday’s game.

“The doc did a good job straightening it and he went back on.

“These guys are tough, hey, and he’ll be okay on Saturday.”

The Sharks have their second bye after the Bulls game on Saturday and then have their June break.

It cannot come quickly enough. They return on June 29 to play the Auckland Blues and then face the Bulls (in Pretoria) and the Southern Kings in Durban (on July 13) to end their league commitments.

Many of their dozen walking wounded are expected to be ready again after the June recess, but their return will almost certainly be too late to rescue their ill-fated Super Rugby campaign.

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