Johannesburg - The physical derby against the Lions took its toll on the Sharks, but fortunately coach John Plumtree does not have too many injury concerns this week.
The Sharks have now won four matches in succession and have turned around what was heading for a disastrous season. However, they face the Blues in a must-win Super 14 clash in Durban on Saturday night, and Plumtree knows it is going to be a lot tougher than the Lions game.
That means he will be pleased to have most hands on deck by the Thursday practice session, with just the twisted ankle suffered by Riaan Swanepoel requiring a decision that could impact on a player’s chances of playing.
“Our two main ball carriers, Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts, are feeling a bit sore this week, which is understandable if you consider the work they got through against the Lions,” said Plumtree.
“But both of them will be ready to train with the squad on Thursday. We are just managing them in the meantime. Riaan has a twisted ankle and is receiving treatment. If he does not play, Andries Strauss will slot into his place.”
Plumtree said that while the Lions were extremely physical in the derby in Johannesburg, the Blues would be a much tougher team to play against because they would ask more questions of the Sharks defence.
Long a strength of Sharks rugby, there have been a few too many line breaks against the Durban team this season, and it is a concern to the coach.
“It is not that other teams are getting through us and scoring a lot of tries. What is happening is that the opposition are managing to break the line too often, and that is a concern. Our one-on-one defence is receiving attention.
“We simply cannot afford to defend poorly against the Blues as they have the best backline in the competition. They even manage to break the Stormers defence when they played them, and the Stormers have the best defence in the competition. The Blues have Rene Ranger who is in excellent form and asks a lot of questions, and Joe Rocokoco and Rudi Wulf are also in good form at the moment. If we make mistakes against the Blues, we could be in trouble.”