Muller out, Smit possible

2010-05-04 00:00

SPRINGBOK lock Johann Muller has almost certainly played his last game for the Sharks after again breaking the arm that kept him on the sidelines for most of last season.

Muller went down with an injury in the second half of Saturday night’s tough outing against the Bulls at Loftus and Sharks head coach John Plumtree confirmed last night that the 30-year-old lock had again suffered an arm fracture.

Muller has signed a two-year contract with Ulster and is leaving Durban after the Super 14 ends later this month. The new break is expected to sideline him for the next six weeks.

There was better news for the Sharks regarding their captain John Smit. The Springbok front-row forward underwent an MRI scan yesterday after suffering a neck injury during the Bulls game.

Smit tweeted early yesterday, and said referee Jonathan Kaplan, widely regarded as the best referee in world rugby, played a part in the incident by not managing the scrum properly and the engagement had left him with “a sore neck”.

“Scan on my neck today, with the ref getting the engage set-up distance wrong my neck got caught in an engage & now it’s a tad sore! Hold thumbs,” Smit tweeted.

The holding of thumbs worked and Smit was later cleared of any serious injury.

“Thankfully no spinal damage, just some soft tissue issues so hoping it will settle for Saturday. Anti inflams for breakie, lunch & supper,” Smit added later.

Smit took over the hooking role against the Bulls after Springbok Bismarck du Plessis was a late withdrawal with a serious neck injury that will sideline him for three months.

“Yeah, John Smit should be okay for Saturday,” said Plumtree last night, “but we are still waiting for results of the scan on Jean Deysel’s arm. Willem Alberts [injured ankle] should also be ready for the Stormers.”

The Sharks’ 27-19 loss to the Bulls ended all talk of challenging for a semi-final spot, but Saturday night’s game against the Stormers will not lack any needle. While the Stormers need a win to seal a semi-final berth, and home ground advantage, the Sharks will be battling for pride, Springbok places and a positive end to their Super 14 season.

The Stormers are concerned that they may have to make the Durban trip without their Springbok Bryan Habana.

The Stormers wing injured his ribs during Friday night’s emphatic 42-14 win over the Crusaders at Newlands and left the field.

Coach Allister Coetzee said they would assess the injury during the week.

“You know what it is like with ribs. You need to give a bit of time for the swelling to go down before you can assess the full extent of the injury,” he told News24.

Centre Tim Whitehead, his replacement on Friday night, and veteran utility back Frikkie Welsh are considered possible replacements.

Coetzee and captain Schalk Burger refused to speculate on the possibility of landing a home semi-final.

“We are looking no further than the Sharks game,” said Coetzee.

“The important thing is that our destiny is in our own hands. I would rank the game against the Crusaders as one of our best performances of the season, but we must back it up with another one against the Sharks,” the satisfied Stormers coach added.

“I am happy with the way the team are playing, and with the way we responded to the defeat to the Reds in Brisbane.

“To beat the Crusaders you have to bring the physical intensity, and that has now become a given with the Stormers. The boys were put under early pressure by Crusaders, but they held their nerve.

“We must now just make sure we have 22 fresh players for the Sharks and are able to pitch up with the right intensity in Durban on Saturday.”

Burger also praised the efforts of his Stormers.

“We played with good intensity against the Crusaders and the first half was as tough as any game I have played in. They really came at us.

“I am proud of the boys for the way we played, but I am not going to get ahead of myself. We are not looking beyond the Sharks and we just need to keep winning,” said Burger.

Saturday night’s game kicks off at 7.10 pm.

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