Sharks plagued by injury concerns

2012-07-11 00:00

THE Sharks still have injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s final-round Super Rugby derby against the Cheetahs, with Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis joining the list of walking wounded.

Coach John Plumtree said yesterday that the bustling Springbok hooker has a knee cartilage concern.

“The knee swelled up after the Bulls match and it requires a scope. He could still play this weekend, but he’ll probably play off the bench.”

Du Plessis has been in exceptional form in recent weeks, but the Sharks have a competent replacement in Craig Burden.

Plumtree said flank Willem Alberts, fullback Pat Lambie and lock Steven Sykes, who all missed the Bulls outing, were back at training.

“They have all done well and I’m hoping they will be available.”

He said flank Jacques Botes could also be ready after an extended injury break and that would add to the Sharks’ options on the bench.

SA U20 centre Paul Jordaan, nursing a hamstring strain, and lock Pieter Steph du Toit, who left the field on Friday night with a damaged ankle, were still concerns and they are unlikely to be ready for Saturday.

Flyhalf Fred Michalak, who left the field in the second half with a “stinger”, has been passed fit.

Plumtree said the injury to Jordaan and former Bok centre Marius Joubert (damaged ankle) had left the Sharks vulnerable in midfield should they reach the quarter-finals.

This could result in the Sharks requesting special clearance from Sanzar to field Frans Steyn in the play-offs. Steyn is unavailable for the play-offs because he only joined the Sharks after the April 1 cut-off, but Sanzar can make an exception if a franchise suffers a string of injuries.

“It all depends on how Jordaan recovers, but we will certainly go through that process [with Sanzar] if we can’t get Paul fit.”

Plumtree said that the most gratifying aspect of the Sharks’ win over the Bulls was that they did not allow the Bulls to dominate at forward.

“It was really encouraging to see the way our pack fronted up and didn’t allow them to dominate. That gave us confidence and when we got on the front foot, we scored those tries.” He said that the players had also responded well to the strong support of the King’s Park crowd.

“That inspired the boys against a really quality side and if we can get something like that, around 30 000 cheering on the players against the Cheetahs, that certainly will help.”

Captain Keegan Daniel said the win over the Bulls was arguably the Sharks’ most clinical performance of the year. “All the players seemed to be on the same page after the disappointment of losing to the Lions. It showed what we can do …”

Former Shark Justin Downey (dislocated finger) has withdrawn from the Cheetahs side and Springbok loose forward Ashley Johnson looks set to replace him in his last appearance in South Africa before joining English club Wasps.

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