Sharks ‘not quite ready for Super 14’

2009-02-05 00:00

The Sharks and the Stormers, who meet in the opening round of the Super 14, find themselves in similar positions with the Newlands game just eight days away.

The teams both have injury concerns and will field players in their starting line-up who will not have had any match practice ahead of the Super 14.

Sharks captain Johann Muller, speaking after the 39-9 friendly win over the Bulls’ reserves at King’s Park on Wednesday evening, said his team are an outing short of being match-ready for the Super 14.

“An extra game in the pre-season would have been ideal,” Muller told the media. “We’re probably a little short on match sharpness and need to prepare more adequately for the intensity and physicality of Super 14.”

Muller said the slow start might benefit them in the later stages of a tough campaign.

In Cape Town, Stormers’ coach Rassie Erasmus said a number of players, including Springboks Conrad Jantjes and Schalk Burger, will play against the Sharks without any match practice.

“Both of them will be available to be picked. Obviously it is not ideal without game time, but I can almost say they will definitely be picked,” Erasmus said.

The Sharks are in a similar position as they nurse front-row men Beast Mtawarira, Deon Carstens and the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, back to full fitness.

Coach John Plumtree is hoping that all four will be available for Newlands.

“We have to be smart in managing them this week and getting them ready physically,” he said.

Erasmus is convinced flyhalf Willem de Waal will be ready, but there are concerns that tall Bok lock Andries Bekker’s back problem may be more serious than initially thought.

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