Sharks’ midfield decimated

2013-05-07 00:00

WILLEM Alberts, the powerful Springbok flank, is on his way to join the beleaguered Sharks squad in Brisbane ahead of Friday’s Super Rugby outing against the Reds.

Alberts, who has spent most of the year on the sidelines following shoulder surgery, has played for the Sharks XV in their last two Vodacom Cup games and has been cleared to return to Super Rugby.

The Sharks, disrupted by injury and patchy form, have lost their last four games and will have to win their six remaining games to remain in contention for a playoff spot.

They face the powerful Reds on Friday before ending their overseas tour against the Force in Perth a week later.

Their four remaining games in South Africa — either side of the June international window — are against the Bulls, home and away, the Auckland Blues and, finally, the Southern Kings at King’s Park on July 13.

Alberts is expected to play off the bench against the Reds and he will add depth to the Sharks’ backrow and physicality to the pack.

But it is at outside centre that coach John Plumtree is running short of talent following the weekend ankle injury to Frans Steyn.

Steyn underwent an operation in Dunedin early on Sunday morning for compartment syndrome (for the medically informed), which is, apparently, the result of heavy pressure build-up in a limb.

Sharks manager Rudolf Straeuli told The Witness yesterday that Steyn would return to Durban after he is released from hospital on Thursday.

“I believe he will be out of rugby for four to six weeks,” said Straeuli.

The news is a blow for the struggling Sharks and it will rule Steyn out of the Springboks’ home internationals in June. But it is also an untimely setback for the big centre who has worked exceptionally hard in recent weeks to shed excess weight and find elusive form.

Plumtree says his midfield resources have been “decimated”.

He has already lost Paul Jordaan and Tim Whitehead to injury and on Sunday he was considering calling up Sharks XV captain and centre Marius Joubert as a replacement for Steyn.

However, the former Springbok was injured in the Sharks XV’s quarter-final loss to the Golden Lions on Friday.

It is now likely that Plumtree will shift JP Pietersen from wing to outside centre with either Odwa Ndungane or Piet Lindeque starting on the wing.

Hooker Craig Burden, with a neck injury, has returned home and Monde Hadebe has replaced him in Australia. Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis is reportedly still “a week or two” away from returning to action.

Friday’s match in Brisbane kicks off at 11.40 am.


Friday — May 10 vs Reds in Brisbane.

Friday — May 17 vs Force in Perth.

Saturday — May 25 vs Bulls in Durban.

Saturday — June 29 vs Blues in Durban.

Saturday — July 6 vs Bulls in Pretoria.

Saturday — July 13 vs Kings in Durban.

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