Sharks still in search of a fly-half

2010-01-12 00:00

THE Sharks are considering a number of options as they attempt to track down a suitable flyhalf replacement for Argentinian Juan Hernandez ahead of the Super 14 season.

Hernandez cut his ties with the Sharks last week after injuring his back and returning to Argentina for surgery.

The Sharks’ flyhalf concerns have been compounded by Ruan Pienaar’s knee injury. The Springbok utility back underwent surgery last month and will only return to action next month.

Coach John Plumtree has said that efforts will be made both locally and internationally to find a quality flyhalf replacement, while Monty Dumond, who was on loan to the Cheetahs, has been recalled to the Sharks squad.

The search for a flyhalf is “work in progress”, Sharks commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli told The Witness yesterday.

“We do need to add to our depth at flyhalf and we would prefer to sign a local player. We are busy looking and there are some good options available.”

Meanwhile, the recall of Dumond from Bloemfontein has, in turn, aggravated the Cheetahs’ problems at flyhalf.

The Bloemfontein team have lost last season’s regular, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, to the Bulls and Griquas flyhalf Naas Olivier was regarded as his replacement with Dumond as back-up.

But Olivier has injured a knee in training and could be sidelined for over a month.

“Naas could be sidelined for four to six weeks due to the injury. This means that he may miss the first game,” said coach Naka Drotské.

While it will be a huge setback if Olivier cannot play against the Bulls, Drotské will still be able to pick from the experienced Louis Strydom, youngster Sias Ebersohn or even Riaan Viljoen who played for the Springboks as a fullback against Saracens and the Leicester Tigers at the end of last year.

Drotské told reporters he is happy with his team’s preparations, in spite of the loss of Olivier.

“It’s definitely the best we have been conditioned for a Super 14,” he said.

The Sharks will play two pre-season friendlies in Cape Town — against the Western Force and the Stormers — before opening their Super 14 challenge against the Chiefs in Durban on February 13.

Flyhalf Willem de Waal, out with a neck injury since August, is back in training with the Stormers.

“Willem has been running with the squad, and we are phasing him back in along with some of the other injured players,” Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told News24.

“He has made a good recovery from his injury, and it is now just a case of easing him back into contact over the next few weeks. We are expecting him to be ready to play again by the end of January.”

That could mean that De Waal will be ready to play in the plum warm-up fixture against the Sharks at Newlands on January 29. Peter Grant slotted in at flyhalf when De Waal was injured during the Western Province Currie Cup campaign, but at this stage it would appear he will play at inside centre in place of Jean de Villiers.

Sharks’ friendlies:

Tuesday, January 26: v Western Force, Cape Town, 19:00

Friday, January 29: v Stormers, Cape Town, 19:00

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