Sharks call up rookie Richards
Johannesburg - The Sharks have called up another one of their rising young stars in wing Mark Richards.
Richards, who is already part of the Springbok Sevens squad, replaces the injured JP Pietersen and will link up with the team in Melbourne.
Pietersen is back in Durban and will on Tuesday undergo tests to determine the seriousness of a knee ligament injury that he suffered in the weekend’s 39-12 win over the Western Force in Perth.
Odwa Ndungane, who was rushed to hospital after being the victim of a spear tackle by Rory Sidey, is recovering well. A decision will be taken later this week on whether the Springbok wing will play against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday. Kick-off is at 10:40 SA time.
The Sharks still have another current Bok wing in Lwazi Mvovo, with Stefan Terblanche and Louis Ludik also available to fill the position.
Sharks coach John Plumtree may however be reluctant to break up the midfield pairing of Terblanche and Meyer Bosman.
Sidey was suspended for three weeks on Monday because of the spear tackle on Ndungane and Plumtree said that the Force were sometimes "over-emotional on defence".
Loose forwards Willem Alberts and Jacques Botes are also struggling with injuries. Botes has a sore rib, while Alberts is suffering after another outstanding - and fiery - performance.
Plumtree was not completely satisfied with his team’s defensive effort against the Force, even though the Sharks remain the only side in the competition not to have conceded a try.
“We missed several tackles and were not as accurate as I would have liked. The Force have some good attacking players that caught us off guard at times. I’d like to sharpen the defence a little this week,” said Plumtree.
His team has not conceded a try in 240 minutes of Super Rugby.
“We were impatient on attack at times and then played the ball wide too quickly without first doing damage in midfield.”
The players rested on Monday to get used to the new environment of Melbourne, a city in which they have not played before.
“The guys looked fatigued at times in that first game, but hopefully things will be better during the second week of the tour,” said Plumtree.
He also warned his players not to get big-headed after three wins.
“There is such a fine line between winning and losing. We have to make sure our preparation is good and that our attitude is right to give us the best possible shot at victory.”