Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The decision on whether to reintroduce big flank Jean Deysel to the physical intensity of Super Rugby at Newlands on Saturday has been made easier for Sharks coach John Plumtree.
He might well have pressed Deysel into action anyway in the crucial derby match against the DHL Stormers, but the injury that has ruled Jacques Botes out of the game has made it an imperative and, in a sense, taken the decision away from Plumtree. The Sharks coach also confirmed at a press conference in Durban on Tuesday that Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Alistair Hargreaves have been cleared to play.
That means that with the exception of the absence of Botes, Plumtree is in the rare position of being able to choose from a fully fit squad.
"It is seldom that I have the luxury of a having almost everybody fit, but when we are in this position I have serious choices to make (because of the depth)," said Plumtree.
"But the choice the players have is how well they play in their positions. When everybody is playing well, the bench is strong and we are strong as a group. It means you can pick up your intensity in the second half, when you can bring on hungry, quality players.
The return of Du Plessis means that in addition to having the imposing figure of Deysel on the flank, the Sharks should also have at least one Springbok front-row forward to call upon in the form of Du Plessis, John Smit or Beast Mtwarira, while Jannie du Plessis probably did enough when he came on as a replacement against the Hurricanes to push the inform Eugene van Staden back to bench duties.
It was Deysel though that was providing Plumtree with something to think about as while he has made good progress with the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup, Plumtree was only intending to reintroduce him to Super Rugby after the next bye.
"I have been watching Jean's progression over the last month in the Vodacom Cup and he has steadily improved towards the level that we associate with him," said Plumtree.