‘Lions will provide big challenge for Sharks’ — Kayser

2009-08-12 00:00

FORMER Springbok Deon Kayser, now serving as the Sharks’ technical adviser, said yesterday that preparations for Saturday’s Currie Cup game against the Lions at Ellis Park were being hampered by uncertainty in both camps.

In the absence of Sharks head coach John Plumtree, who was jet-lagged after his rushed trip home to New Zealand, Kayser told the media that a call on the fitness of both halfbacks, Argentinian Juan Martin Hernandez (ankle) and Rory Kockott (shoulder), would be made later in the week.

Springbok prop Deon Carstens, said Kayser, had recovered well and was expected to be fit, while Tri-Nations squad members Odwa Ndungane, Jannie du Plessis and Ryan Kankwoski are also expected to be included in Saturday’s line-up.

Kayser said the Sharks team had improved as the season had progressed and their unexpected away win over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein had been a massive boost.

“But the Lions will provide another big challenge. They have quality in players like Willem Alberts and Jano Vermaark. But it is a bit difficult to plan against them because they keep making big selection changes each week.

“We can’t underestimate them, they’re a Super 14 franchise and it is away from home for us. It is never easy against one of the bigger unions and Jake White [former Bok coach] has a hand in there as well. With their backs to the ball, and with Jake’s influence, I’m sure they will be much more structured in their play.”

Kayser said that the Sharks had played exceptionally well in the second half against the Leopards at the weekend.

“But we came up a bit short in looking after our first-phase possession and need to improve there. The backs did well, we counter-attacked strongly and there was encouraging inter-play between backs and forwards.”

News from the Lions camp is that centre Walter Venter, one of their better players in the opening weeks of the Currie Cup, has been laid low over the past fortnight by swine flu. This has been confirmed by Lions team doctor Frans Verster who said that the Lions U21 game against Boland U21 last Friday was postponed because a number of players also reported ill with the virus. The game against the Sharks U21 on Saturday will, however, go ahead with a number of replacements being called up.

Saturday’s Currie Cup game at Ellis Park will be handled by Jonathan Kaplan and the game, which kicks off at 5 pm, will be screened by SuperSport.

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