Sharks prepare for Lions game

2009-06-09 00:00

Injury has denied the Sharks the services of Springboks Ryan Kankowski and Odwa Ndungane for their big game against the British and Irish Lions at King’s Park tomorrow night.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers released three Sharks for the game but only loosehead prop Deon Carstens is fit enough to be included in the diluted line-up for tomorrow’s game.

Sharks head coach John Plumtree confirmed yesterday that a back injury to number eight Kankowski and Ndungane’s groin problem had ruled them out. Ironically, both players survived 13 tough games in the Super 14 only to go down with injuries during a week-long Bok training camp.

The Sharks will be without nine Springboks tomorrow but Plumtree said the situation was not new.

“I’ve been faced with this before. We had to front-up in the Currie Cup with a depleted team and it was the same coaching Wellington in New Zealand.”

Plumtree said it was unfortunate that the best players (the Springboks) were not available for the provinces in high profile games such as this one.

“The emphasis should not only be on winning the Tests but also on a celebration of rugby. There are 12 years between Lions tours and it is a pity for our supporters, the players and the stakeholders that they do not face full-strength Sharks and Western Province teams.

“But the same thing happened when the Lions toured New Zealand in 2005 and I didn’t expect it to happen here now. That’s professional rugby. If the Lions lost every provincial game and won the Test series, it would have been a successful series for them.”

Plumtree said that South Africa “has some serious depth and it wouldn’t make too much difference if they lost a player by giving a Springbok game time with his province. That’s not a criticism but an observation. It is just unfortunate.”

Plumtree has named a predictable team, a mix of experienced Super 14 players and a bunch of young backs who appeared fleetingly in the Super 14. Certainly he found covering the absent Boks at forward far easier than filling the gaping holes in the backline.

Carstens, who seems certain to be on the Bok bench for the Test as cover for tighthead John Smit, is at loosehead and needs game time. He forms a strong front-row with Skipper Badenhorst and shunned Bok tighthead Jannie du Plessis. The Sharks will have the regular lock pairing of Johann Muller and Steven Sykes while the loose trio will be formed by three specialist flanks in Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel who shifts to number eight to take over from Kankowski.

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott will need to nurse Currie Cup flyhalf Monty Dumond through a tough evening, Riaan Swanepoel and Andries Strauss are the midfield pairing in the absence of Boks Frans Steyn and Adi Jacobs while Chris Jordaan and Luzuko Vulindly are the replacements for Ndungane and JP Pietersen on the wing.

Plumtree added that the Lions were developing into a “seriously good team and they play a physical game.”

“We have to be sure we get up and match that.”

Sharks captain Johann Muller said that the Lions had impressed him in the opening quarter against the Cheetahs on Saturday before squeaking home 26-24..

“We’ve been to Bloemfontein and come out second best nearly every time so for the Lions to be up 20-0 early on took a special effort.

“A yellow card brought Free State back in and they are difficult when their tails are up. But if Lions play as they started, and keep it up for 80 minutes, they will put any side away. We saw that against the Golden Lions when they dominated throughout and it showed on the scoreboard. “

Muller said the Lions showed they are difficult to stop if they build up momentum and secure front-foot ball.

“We will have to be on top of our game if we want to be competitive on Wednesday night,” he added.


Sharks team

15. Stefan Terblanche,14. Chris Jordaan,13. Andries Strauss,12. Riaan Swanepoel,11. Luzuko Vulindlu,10. Monty Dumond, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Keegan Daniel, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller (captain), 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Skipper Badenhorst, 1. Deon Carstens.

Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Patric Cilliers, 18. Albert van den Berg, 19. Michael Rhodes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Guy Cronje, 22. Lwazi Mvovo.

Kick-off: 7.10pm.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan.

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