Sharks full of praise for Herbst after solid display against Chiefs

2013-05-01 00:00

SPRINGBOK prop Jannie du Plessis and the Sharks coaching staff this week gave Sharks front-row forward Wiehahn Herbst rave reviews after his brave scrummaging performance in the Super Rugby game against the Chiefs at the weekend.

The 24-year-old Herbst, a specialist tighthead prop, was press-ganged into playing on the loosehead following the injury to Springbok front-rower Beast Mtawarira during the match against the Cheetahs.

Du Plessis, the Bok tighthead, was moved to loosehead during the Cheeetahs game, but he failed to hold up the scrum and Herbst took his place.

He started at loosehead against the Chiefs and the Sharks had the better of the set-pieces.

“I thought Wiehahn did very well out of position,” said Plumtree this week “and our scrummaging was consistently good”.

Sharks manager and former Springbok coach Rudolf Straeuli was more effusive in his praise. “I thought Wiehahn did exceptionally well in tough conditions and he was my man of the match in Hamilton,” he said.

But the most generous praise came from Herbst’s team-mate and fellow-prop Du Plessis. He said: “I don’t think people realise how well Wiehahn played at loosehead. It’s not easy to go and play on the other side of the scrum.”

Herbst, 1,80 metres and 114 kg, is a powerful, sturdy figure and ideally suited to the frontrow.

“He’s very strong and shorter than the guys he plays against. He does not get the credit he deserves for the way he is playing,” said Du Plessis, adding that the Sharks pack, showing real intent, had scrummed “brilliantly” against the Chiefs.

Ironically, there has been speculation that the energetic Herbst could take over from Du Plessis as the next Springbok tighthead.

Plumtree, looking ahead to Saturday and the Highlanders in Dunedin, now has options at loosehead, with specialist JC Janse van Rensburg, on loan from the Lions, having joined the squad in Queenstown this week.

Du Plessis said the players were sill disappointed that they did not beat the Chiefs in spite of their dreadful opening quarter.

“Regardless of the start they had, I really thought we had the opportunity to win it and just couldn’t pull it through. We need to learn to finish and win games rather than just put on a good show.”

The Highlanders, in spite of their many All Blacks, have yet to win a Super Rugby game this year and Du Plessis said the Sharks were preparing for a tough game.

“It’s not going to be an easy game. The Highlanders haven’t been playing bad rugby, but the ball hasn’t gone their way. They’ll want to rectify that. They’re too proud a side to lie down and we will have to play very good rugby to beat them.”

All Black centre Tamati Ellison is over his injury and seems certain to join the world-class Ma’a Nonu in the Highlanders’ midfield, while their pack contains Test veterans as hooker Andrew Hore, lock Brad Thorn and prop Tony Woodcock.

Kick-off is at 9.35 am (SA time) on Saturday.

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