Sharks delay team naming
Durban - The Sharks team for the Absa Currie Cup semi-final this Saturday against the Blue Bulls at Mr Price Kings Park will only be named later on Thursday as the coaching staff mull over options and await fitness tests.
According to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick
, “Steven Sykes has returned to training and has been monitored, we don’t want to pull that calf muscle again,” explains coach John Plumtree, “and we will make a late call on him, as with Odwa Ndungane and Jacques Botes.”
With the full complement of returning Springboks now available, the reintroduction must be, as it was last week, done in the interests of the team he admits. Continuity is one thing, but so is selecting the team most capable of winning this match.
“Everyone is excited, everyone wants to play and the most important thing is the balancing act between breaking up the rhythm we have and bringing great players back into your side, which the Springboks are.
“We’ve seen it come undone when we had momentum and lost, but we’ve looked at the opposition, looked at what they do and we need to make sure we select the 22 who can do the job on the day.”
Only Willem Alberts and Beast Mtawarira weren’t included last week and The Sharks coach admits that, “They have had a lot of rugby and it made sense to give them a break last week. But we’re in a full training week this week with everyone which is fantastic and we will select the team according to what we’re faced with. The Bulls are very big and physical, we need to make sure we can match that.”
The Bulls were staring down the barrel of promotion/relegation before last weekend, and now find themselves in the semi-finals, showing just how tight this year’s competition has been.
“The Bulls did well to beat the Lions, it’s never easy to win at Coca Cola Park,” he explains. “They did a really good job there. They had a relegation gun pointing at their heads, which is different to our situation. Hopefully what we decide in terms of selection and how we integrate the players back into the side will benefit the team and then ultimately we can win the trophy – that’s what we all want.”
After a long, arduous season that has barely paused for breath since February, the end is in sight and in two weeks’ time, supporters of one of the four teams will be recovering from the celebrations of their team’s victory.
“There is so much to look forward to, so much work has been done and lots of rugby has been played. We know what we’re coming up against, a very hungry Bulls side looking to prove a point. It’s been a tough year, there are four teams who can finish their season on a high and all four will be talking about that.”
He admits that it hasn’t been easy trying to decide on a side but one good thing from the Springboks’ lack of success is the hunger the players bring into the Currie Cup on their return.
“There are different things that happen with the Boks while they’re away on national duty. Generally, from my experience, when the Boks have been successful, they’ve struggled to come back and play Currie Cup rugby. But when they haven’t, they want to come back and prove a point, get a smile back on their faces. This is one of those years. That’s not saying it’s generic, but it has been my experience. Some come back and really want to do something special.”