Plumtree welcomes Bok boost
Patrick Lambie (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree is delighted to have Patrick Lambie and the rest of his Springbok group available for selection again as the Currie Cup reaches its closing stages.
Up to seven national squad members could feature against Griquas on Friday night, as well as winger JP Pietersen, who returned from two months out with a broken hand last week.
This leaves some big selection decisions for Plumtree, made even tougher considering the Durban team overcame a difficult trip to Bloemfontein where they beat the Cheetahs 37-30 without their Boks last week.
"JP was massive for us in Bloemfontein and having some of that experience coming back at this crucial time is fantastic," Plumtree said on Tuesday.
"We’ve looked at the individual situations of everyone. There are of course some players that have played more than others that are now back with us.
"Then there’s a lot of players here that have had a lot of games as well.
"You look at Jean Deysel, Keegan (Daniel) and our props, there’s a few of them that have played 10 games in a row.
"I’ve sat down with everyone, had conversations with the Boks about the situation and we’ve got to make sure we do what’s best for the team.”
Lambie, however, was certain to play this week after a difficult few months during which the utility back found it difficult to get much game time for South Africa.
He has played just 54 minutes since his last full match, which was the Super Rugby final on August 4.
"I think he’ll be looking forward to that (a full game)," Plumtree said.
"Pat’s obviously one of the players that’s really keen to play. He’s been doing a lot of training, a lot of kicking and a lot of preparation for this week.
"He’s always a key player when he comes back to us and we’re happy to have him back this week."
On the injury front, veteran hooker Pieter Dixon has been ruled out with a broken arm, while skipper Daniel (knee), Steven Sykes (calf) and Kyle Cooper (flu) are slight injury concerns.
The Sharks, lying first in the standings, are already assured of a home semi-final, and Plumtree said they were gunning to stay top of the table to ensure themselves a home final, provided they got that far in the competition.
"We’ve put ourselves in a nice position with one round to go," he said.
"We have a home semi-final in the bag, which is great, but we don’t want to be going away for a final, we want to stay at home."