Sharks shuffle to fill spots

2013-07-10 00:00

BULLS lock Wilhelm Steenkamp has been suspended for two weeks after he was found guilty of head-butting Butch James during the weekend Super Rugby game at Loftus.

A Sanzar judicial hearing yesterday found Steenkamp guilty of striking another player with his head. Judicial officer Mike Heron said he found from the video footage that the player had intended to strike James with the head and had made contact with the Sharks’ flyhalf and captain between the head and shoulder.

Steenkamp has been suspended until July 20.

The head-butt on James went unpunished at a critical stage of Saturday night’s contest with the TMO, whether by accident or design, shown only video clips that excluded the incident.

Minutes later a clearly angry James made a head-high tackle and was yellow-carded for the last 10 minutes of the game, lost by the Sharks 19-20.

With James suspended and Pat Lambie nursing a sore back (and almost certainly sidelined this weekend) the Sharks are likely to switch Riaan Viljoen from fullback to flyhalf in their final Super Rugby game against the Kings at King’s Park.

Viljoen played flyhalf during the Currie Cup last year and helped the Sharks reach the final.

Sharks co-coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said yesterday that backs Meyer Bosman and JP Pietersen would be back from injury, and would help cover for the loss of James and Lambie.

“Riaan will probably play at flyhalf with Meyer [Bosman] at inside centre.

“Louis Ludik will stay where he is at outside centre and we will probably select JP [Pietersen] on the wing with Odwa Ndungane at fullback.”

Reece-Edwards welcomed the return of Pietersen, who will add pace and power to the backline.

“JP is one of those guys that brings a bit of laughter to the team. He’s relaxed and it’s always good to have a player like that in the side. He wants to score tries and wants to do well. Hopefully, he will quickly find his form.”

He said there were no other injury concerns.

“We will have a full set of forwards to choose from [only Pieter-Steph du Toit is still missing] but we just want to take it up a notch this weekend and finish the Super Rugby season on a high.”

Reece-Edwards said the high injury rate during the season had forced the coaching staff to chop and change, and experiment to cover the holes.

“Now we have guys coming back from injury and we have a strong pack. I think it would have been really exciting if we had been able to make the play-offs,” he said.

“But unfortunately we have missed out, so now there is an element of building towards the Currie Cup for those who will be involved.

“It’s a home game on Saturday and I hope there will be a decent crowd. The players want to thank their supporters and finish off well,” said Reece-Edwards.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm.

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