Sharks’ last hurrah

2015-06-11 06:00
Willem Alberts during the Sharks training session yesterday at King’s Park in Durban.
PHOTO: Gallo Images

Willem Alberts during the Sharks training session yesterday at King’s Park in Durban. PHOTO: Gallo Images

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WHILE the Sharks’ Super Rugby hopes have long been buried, the Durban outfit will be looking to finish the season off with a bang against the Stormers to give a handful of veterans a fitting send-off.

The brothers Du Plessis, Jannie and Bismarck, are enjoying their final week in Durban before they turn their attention to the Springboks’ World Cup bid. Thereafter the front-rowers bid South Africa adieu — bound for French club rugby next season.

They are joined by the Bok wrecking ball Willem Alberts who is also off to greener pastures in France.

Coming off a bye week, the Sharks players were put through their paces during yesterday’s training session. The intensity of the session — a heavy dose of fitness — made it clear that only a massive effort would see them past the South African conference winners come Saturday.

While the Sharks are looking to play a full strength starting XV, the Stormers seem likely to rest a number of players as they look to the quarter-finals of the competition. Regular Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen has already been ruled out through a neck injury, while others are set to be rested.

Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt seemed fairly unconcerned about the Cape Town outfit’s selection — thinking back on the Sharks’ losses to the Stormers in last year’s Currie Cup and Super Rugby competitions.

“It’s definitely something we’re not focusing on because fresh in our memory from last year was a weakened Stormers side that came to Durban and beat us. So we are going along with our preparations as per normal — whether they bring a full metal jacket or not,” Everitt said.

There is a mix of good news as Ryan Kankowski and Marcell Coetzee were back at training. Alberts managed to get through half the training session but Everitt said a decision would be made on his availability later in the week.

Meanwhile, Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach are still on the mend and will not feature for the Sharks this weekend.

“We got Marcell back from an enforced rest last week with the Springboks and Willem came through half the training session today quite well and we’ll see how he goes the rest of the week. We should be able to bolster our team a little bit from the Rebels game.”

Both Alberts and Kankowski were late withdrawals from the match against the Melbourne side two weeks ago.

Their presence was missed in that clash, which the Sharks won 25-21, but Everitt remained cognisant of the Rebels’ wins over the best teams in the competition. In beating the Australians, the Sharks built up a head of steam going into the season finale.

“We feel as a group we’ve got better since the tour — we started off badly against the Highlanders but I think we’ve improved every week and we were a little unlucky in some of those games overseas. Certain things didn’t go our way but we came back and managed to beat the Reds in the last game and then the Rebels,” Everitt said.

“The Rebels were no easy outfit — they’ve beaten some of the top teams in the competition and likewise they beat the Bulls on Saturday. But we believe we are getting better and after the break the guys are really enthusiastic and I’m sure they are going to show a lot of energy on Saturday.”

That energy will be lifted by the outgoing stalwarts. Bismarck in particular has been in outstanding form since his return from his six week ban. His energy around the park is infectious and the Sharks players are likely to rally around the Bok hooker.

“They have been huge contributors to the Sharks setup on and off the field — they’ve been good ambassadors for the Sharks brand. They’ve been passionate players and have been proud to be here. Jannie and Bismarck have served ten years here so the guys want to give them a good farewell and put in a good performance this weekend.”

While there is only pride and a few fitting swan songs at stake, Everitt insisted the Sharks are trying to rebuild after a season riddled with nine losses in 15 games.

“I think it’s all about ourselves. I don’t think anything can happen to the Stormers whether we beat them or not, they are already the conference winners. We’d just like to show our fans we are up there with the best South African sides.

“We are not going to focus on the individuals who are playing — we hope that Duane’s injury is not as serious as its being made out to be.

“I believe he was going for scans this afternoon so for South African rugby, it will be good that he gets back on the field. But they have good players, they have a lot of depth at Western Province — guys like Nizaam Carr have been standouts for them. But whether Duane plays or not, I don’t think they will be much weaker,” Everitt said.

Word from the Stormers camp was that Vermeulen’s neck injury would not need surgery and the enigmatic eighthman could be fit for the quarter-finals of the competition.

The Sharks take on the Stormers in Durban on Saturday.

Kickoff is at 7.10 pm

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