Sharks’ latest crisis is

2013-06-25 00:00

Sharks rugby

THE Sharks, hit by a mini-crisis at centre, could field former Springbok flyhalf Butch James in the midfield in the Super Rugby clash against the Auckland Blues at King’s Park on Saturday.

The Sharks have four centres — Meyer Bosman, Tim Whitehead, Francois Steyn and Paul Jordaan — on the injury list and will have a makeshift pairing in the midfield on Saturday.

James, who underwent knee surgery early in the year, played his first game this season against the Golden Lions on Friday night. Playing at flyhalf, he looked in good touch and was strong in defence, but was forced off the field after 45 minutes with a rib injury.

The good news is that he was out at training yesterday and the Sharks are clearly hoping he will be ready for Saturday’s game.

The Sharks lost the Ellis Park friendly 33-29 after leading 19-7 at half-time and assistant coach Grant Bashford said yesterday that the team management had found the outing useful after the three-week break.

“We were worried about the team [after all the injuries and missing seven Springboks], but the guys did really well in that first half.

“It was only really when they got on top of us in the set piece in the second half that we couldn’t cope so we learned a lot about a few individuals in that game.

“When prop Wiehahn Herbst went off with an injury we started to battle and they drove us at will in the second half.

“But there was some pretty good attack in the first half and being up on the scoreboard early gave us confidence.”

Bashford said that the form of fullback Louis Ludik, who returned from an extended injury break and played at outside centre, was encouraging.

“We wanted him to get some game time and Riaan Viljoen has been going well at fullback.

“We’re really happy with the way Louis came through and I don’t think he put a foot wrong,” Bashford said.

“Defensively he was sound and on attack he was willing and took them on all evening.”

Bashford said the coaches were also happy with James’s form — “so there were a lot of positives to come out of that game, although we were disappointed at losing right at the end”.

He said that injury continued to disrupt the Sharks.

“We just don’t seem to be able to enjoy any form of continuity in selection and it’s a different team each week.”

Bashford said hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who was sidelined for 10 months, would have been boosted by playing off the bench in the Springboks’ last two Tests.

The Sharks have also lost three locks in recent weeks with Jandré Marais, injured against the Lions, joining Pieter-Steph du Toit and Anton Bresler on the sidelines.

“We were delighted with the way Edwin Hewitt [signed from Griquas] played against the Lions. He will definitely give us another option in the second-row.”

Kick-off has been brought forward to 2.50 pm on Saturday and South African Jaco Peyper will be the referee.

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