Talented Cilliers suffers second serious injury

2009-01-20 00:00

THE precociously talented Sharks prop, Patric Cilliers, who is just 21, has suffered a second serious knee injury in two years and will be sidelined for nearly the whole Super 14.

Cilliers, who made an immediate impact for the Sharks when he played in the 2007 Currie Cup, had his career abruptly derailed when he suffered a knee ligament injury. He underwent surgery and made a return to rugby late last year.

The former Michaelhouse tighthead was expected to play an important supporting role in this year’s Super 14 and has looked strong at pre-season training.

However, during a game of touch last week, he went down with another knee injury and has again undergone surgery.

“It is very sad,” said Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford yesterday, “particularly to an up-and-coming player who has worked so hard to get himself back to full fitness.

“The injury is to the same knee but to another ligament. He will be out for some three months (10 to 12 weeks) which takes us through most of the Super 14.”

Bashford said Cilliers remains positive about his rugby future.

“I’ve already seen him back in the gym working on his upper body strength.”

The Sharks backline coach said the squad had depth at tighthead (Springboks Jannie du Plessis, John Smit and Deon Carstens) “but you always need cover and Pat is the future and was looking strong”.

Meanwhile, the Pumas have helped the Sharks out of a hole by agreeing to a friendly in Witbank on Saturday.

The cancellation of the pre-season friendly against the Cheetahs, who went in search of easier opposition (Griquas) instead, had left the Sharks planning an internal game on Saturday, according to CEO Brian van Zyl.

But the Pumas have now offered to play a game at 5 pm on Saturday in Witbank and the Sharks will name a 24-man squad for the match tomorrow.

The outing will provide head coach John Plumtree with the chance to field a number of his youger players.

“It may not be the same intensity as a game against the Cheetahs, but we do have a game against the Bulls scheduled for the following week anyway, so we should get the required intensity from that,” said Plumtree.

“There have been several High Performance Centre players who have really impressed me in the past few months of the off-season, and this will be a great opportunity for me to see them play in match conditions.”

Plumtree said he will rest many of his Springboks for the outing.

“We will take Jannie du Plessis, John Smit and Ruan Pienaar with for this game, but guys like Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Ryan Kankowski and Johann Muller will remain behind.”

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