Durban - Sharks speedster S'bura Sithole is ready to return to form following his recovery from a serious ankle injury.
Sithole enjoyed a dream 2014 season, which saw him establish himself as a regular starter for the Sharks in Super Rugby and Currie Cup, while he also received a deserved call-up to the Springbok squad during the June Tests.
He was hoping to build on this form heading into the 2015 season, but suffered a serious injury blow during the Sharks’ Super Rugby opener against the Cheetahs in February. During the 35-29 loss, he twisted his ankle and tore ligaments, which sidelined him for seven weeks.
“It was a big blow for me, mentally and physically,” Sithole told MyPlayers.co.za. “I was really excited about this year, especially considering the form I was in. Then I suffered the injury, which was really tough to get through, but I worked hard during rehab and I’m just happy to be back on the field.”
The 24-year-old managed to recover in time for the start of the Vodacom Cup, which offered him an easier path back into the game. He started in both games against Border and Western Province, and has now been reeled in to make his Super Rugby return against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
“The Vodacom Cup offered me an easier route back into the game. Although the Sharks XV picked up a big win against Border, I wasn’t happy with my individual performance. Things improved against Western Province, which made me more confident,” explained Sithole.
“I can’t wait to play Super Rugby again. It’s going to be a tough game against the Lions, who are on a massive high. They deservedly won four of their last five games, which came during their overseas tour and against the Bulls. They’re playing a good brand of attacking rugby, and balance it well with a good kicking game. We will have to deliver a strong performance to stand the chance of beating them.”
The Sharks suffered a huge confidence blow after their 52-10 loss against the Crusaders at Kings Park last weekend. However, Sithole stressed that the players are determined to put this result behind them.
“The squad is a close unit and we’ve created a positive mood in the camp. We can’t allow ourselves to dwell on that disappointing match against the Crusaders. Super Rugby is a long competition, so we’ll be working hard to improve as a team,” said Sithole.
“Our focus is on this weekend, and we plan on turning things around against the Lions.”
And are there any individual goals?
“Just like the team, I’m taking things week by week. I want to represent the Sharks to the best of my ability and hopefully return to the form I found myself in last year. I know what kind of contribution I’m capable of making, so my goal is to grow in consistency and always be best player I can be for the team.”
Saturday’s clash at Emirates Airline Park kicks off at 17:05.
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Harold Vorster, 11. Mark Richards, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Corne Fourie, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Robert Kruger, 20. Derick Minnie, 21. Lohan Jacobs, 22. Marnitz Boshoff, 23. Howard Mnisi
15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. S'bura Sithole, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Renaldo Bothma, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Mouritz Botha, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Matt Stevens, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Willem Alberts, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Lionel Cronje, 23 Jack Wilson
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