Sharks explore centre options

    2013-06-24 22:30
    Durban – The Sharks will restart their Super Rugby campaign with a severely depleted squad, with their options at centre limited the most.

    The Sharks official website reports that after the loss of Meyer Bosman, Tim Whitehead, Francois Steyn and Paul Jordaan to injury, they will hope to call on the returning Louis Ludik and Butch James to bolster the attack in the middle of the backline.

    Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford admitted that they were a bit worried about their centre options in their 33-29 loss to the Golden Lions last week, but happy that they got through the match unscathed.

    "Going into the game we were admittedly worried about the team, but the guys did really well in that first half," Bashford said.

    With the centre situation dire in the Sharks camp,  Ludik and debutant Heimar Williams were pressed into service and the pair coped well.

    "It was most important for us that Louis played well at centre," Bashford said.

    "We wanted him to get some game time because he’s been out injured and Riaan Viljoen has been going well at fullback, so it was an opportunity to get Louis on the field in a different position where we have suffered a number of injuries.

    "He was able to get a feeling of what’s to come playing in the midfield and we’re really happy with the way he came through, I don’t think he put a foot wrong. Defensively he was sound and on attack he was willing and took them on all the time."

    The Sharks do however welcome Patrick Lambie back from Springbok duty, which means they have the option of shifting Butch James out to centre with Ludik, which would offer them much needed experience in the midfield.

    "We’re also happy with the way Butch came through, it was nice to see him on the field – so there were a lot of positives to come out of that game, although we are disappointed at losing there in the end," said Bashford

    "The midfielders (centres) we have available are all quality players who can do a job for us and we take a huge amount of confidence out of that, we just don’t seem to be able to enjoy any form of continuity in selection, it’s a different team each week.

    "That’s the hard bit, but it’s what we have to deal with it and there is nothing we can do about it; but make sure we get it right."

    The Sharks are also bolstered for this match by the return of their Springbok loose forwards Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski, as well as an all-Bok front row of Beast Mtawarira and Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis.

    "Bismarck has been lacking game time, so it was nice to see him featuring in a high intensity match with the Springboks after having played a few club matches.

    "Getting game time in a Test match was exactly what he needed and the confidence he has gained out of testing himself on a big occasion like an international has been good for him."

    With the unavailability of Franco van der Merwe, Anton Bresler and Pieter-Steph du Toit for the Lions match on the weekend, Edwin Hewitt was drafted in from Griquas and performed admirably, looking to extend his time with The Sharks.

    "We were very happy with the way Edwin played against the Lions," said Bashford.

    "The second row is another position we’ve been hard-hit with injuries and then Jandré Marais picked up an injury against the Lions.

    "It was really fortunate that we were able to take him up for the game because he will give us another option in selection in a position we need."

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