Vodacom Super 14

Sharks face one less All Black

2010-02-23 11:37
Isaac Ross (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – The Crusaders have been dealt a blow ahead of their Super 14 encounter with the Sharks on Friday, with All Blacks lock Isaac Ross laid low by an ankle injury.

The setback occurred in training on Monday, according to New Zealand press reports, with Tasman’s Joe Wheeler summoned to the squad as a result.

The team will be announced on Wednesday, amidst speculation that ace fetcher Richie McCaw will start his season off the bench against the South Africans after being given a couple of weeks off at the start of the competition – without him, the fancied Crusaders were humbled by the Reds in Brisbane last weekend.

There may be some quiet relief over the Ross news in the visiting camp ahead of the vital outing, with both sides coming off losses and the Sharks yet to open their account in 2010.

That is because the Durban-based side have had plenty of second-row problems of their own with Johann Muller labouring with a neck injury – although he is part of the touring group – and new signing Gerhard Mostert already ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

Their specialist locks on the five-match overseas leg are Steven Sykes, Muller and Emerging Springbok Wilhelm Steenkamp, loaned to them a few days ago from the Bulls.

The Bulls’ generosity raised some eyebrows but there appeared to be method to the apparent madness when Flip van der Merwe excelled in a start alongside Victor Matfield against the Brumbies at Loftus on Saturday – the champions won 50-32 – while versatile Danie Rossouw is fit again after a neck spasm and Bakkies Botha ought to return from his own layoff soon.

Meanwhile the Brumbies have made one change to their starting XV to play the unbeaten Stormers at Newlands on Friday, veteran second-rower Justin Harrison relegated to the bench and Ben Hand starting.

The supposedly reformed bad boy Harrison was briefly linked with a switch to Boland in pre-season, which might have seen him enter the Stormers picture as well.

Alongside him on the Brumbies bench will be two players who do have some experience of rugby at Newlands, hooker Huia Edmonds and flyhalf Matt Toomua: the latter had a short stint in Cape Town during the 2009 Absa Currie Cup.


15. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Pat McCabe, 13. Stirling Mortlock, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Francis Fainifo, 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Josh Valentine, 8. Stephen Hoiles (captain), 7. George Smith, 6. Rocky Elsom, 5. Mark Chisholm, 4. Ben Hand, 3. Salesi Ma’afu, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander

Substitutes: 16. Huia Edmonds, 17. Guy Shepherdson, 18. Justin Harrison, 19. Mitchell Chapman, 20. Patrick Phibbs, 21. Matt Toomua, 22. Tyrone Smith


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