Sharks captain Keegan Daniel, centre Tim Whitehead join list of injured

2013-02-11 00:00

WHILE the Sharks spent the weekend counting their walking wounded, the Bulls, Stormers and Lions were savouring victories in pre-season friendlies.

The Sharks lost captain Keegan Daniel and centre Tim Whitehead to serious injuries in their 71-4 over the outclassed Leopards on Friday night and they have joined Bismarck du Plessis, Dale Chadwick, Willem Alberts and Butch James on the sidelines.

Daniel damaged knee ligaments and we will only know after a scan today whether he is out for six weeks or longer.

Whitehead, with a broken arm, is also likely to miss at least six weeks of action while Bismarck du Plessis, recovering from major knee surgery, is out of Super Rugby until April.

Prop Dale Chadwick, with a stress fracture, was at Woodburn Stadium on Friday night — but on crutches.

Alberts (shoulder) and James, who has had a scope on his knee, will probably miss the opening two rounds of Super Rugby.

Frans Steyn will take over the captaincy of the team in the absence of Daniel and it is just as well that coach John Plumtree has depth in his squad. He will need it.

The Sharks meet the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday and play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 23 in their Super Rugby opener.

Apart from the injuries, it was a satisfying Friday evening for the Sharks in front of a near-capacity Woodburn Stadium crowd though the Leopards’ defence was often decidedly ordinary.

The Bulls, playing at pace and with most of their first-choice selection, are looking in good shape for Super Rugby after they thumped a strong Cheetahs team 32-10 in Polokwane.

Francois Hougaard, who wants to be a scrumhalf and not a wing, showed excellent early-season form for the Bulls, while young centre Francois Venter was also impressive.

The Bulls begin their 2013 Super Rugby campaign at Loftus Versfeld against the Stormers on Friday, February 22.

The Stormers had a field day against Boland, running up a 57-0 win at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Coach Allister Coetzee was as happy with the nine tries as he was with the Stormers’ defensive work which secured the whitewash win.

The most worrying moment for him was the sight of influential Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, limping off midway through the first half with an ankle injury.

“We’re all a bit nervous about Eben’s ankle strain,” said Coetzee “He landed awkwardly at a lineout and will have a scan.

“We saw that the Sharks picked up a few injuries too and it’s, sadly, something you can’t escape.

“On a positive note, it was great to see Andries Bekker get 60 minutes and Siya Kolisi and Jean de Villiers 80 minutes.

“I was happy with the backline’s performance — mainly their running from depth and I thought the scrums went nicely too. We scored nine tries and kept Boland scoreless — that was important.”

The Lions, and the unexpectedly large crowd of 20 000 at Ellis Park, would have enjoyed their 41-31 win over the Kings, their replacements in Super Rugby this year.

The Kings were missing a host of their first-choice players, including captain Luke Watson, while the Lions, with most of their best players on loan to Super Rugby franchises, fielded a young outfit.

The Kings did show some character in fighting back in the second half, and scoring two tries in five minutes to close within six points, but their leaking defence and inability to contain the Lions rolling maul was particularly worrying ahead of the demanding Super Rugby competition.

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