Sharks hope Beast is fit for Lions match

2009-02-16 00:00

The Sharks are hoping that the Beast will return to action against the Lions in the Super 14 match at King’s Park on Saturday night.

Tendai Mtawarira, the Springbok loosehead prop, has been sidelined in recent weeks by a sternum injury and he missed the weekend Super 14 opener against the Stormers.

The Sharks almost found themselves in a spot of bother when Deon Carstens, Mtawarira’s back-up at loosehead, twinged a hamstring at practice on the eve of the Newlands game.

Hooker Craig Burden was added to the squad to travel to Cape Town in case Carstens withdrew, but the prop came through a fitness test on Saturday morning and the Sharks coaching staff opted to start with him, hoping he would last most of the first half. In the end, Carstens played for almost an hour before leaving the field with hooker Bismarck du Plessis replacing him and John Smit switching to loosehead.

Mtawarira was out running at practice last night and a decision on his fitness will only be taken later in the week.

Ideally, the Sharks would like to see him back in action before they leave on their four-match Australasian tour on Sunday.

Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said last night that, apart from a cut lip suffered by flank Keegan Daniel, there were no new injuries.

“The players are all bruised and sore but both Deon and Bismarck came through the game well. I think the pre-season conditioning of the players was a major factor in the win.”

The Sharks will name a squad of 26 for the tour and they are hoping that two more Boks, lock Albert van den Berg and centre Waylon Murray, will be passed fit to make the trip.

Head coach John Plumtree is unlikely to change his winning line-up for the Lions game though he has to squeeze four Boks (Carstens, Smit and the Du Plessis brothers) into the front-row.

• Lions coach Loffie Eloff said yesterday that his team has no fitness concerns after the weekend win over the Cheetahs at Ellis Park.

Eloff said the Lions will stay with the high-intensity, free-flowing approach against the Sharks, but he said the decision-making will have to improve.

“We need to be more clinical … and thorough in what we do. We only had one warm-up match and that showed in our lineouts, where we’ll do a lot of work this week.”

Saturday’s game kicks off at 7 pm.

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