Injury could force Sharks changes

    2016-04-19 20:00

    Gavin Rich,

    Cape Town - The Sharks are currently in the resort town of Queenstown on New Zealand’s south island and it has provided a much needed opportunity for the players to get some fresh air and refocus on the task at hand, but the medical staff have been hard at work.

    According to Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold, there are injury concerns ahead of Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin, and they could require some juggling of resources.

    Gold did not say what their injuries were, but he listed No 8 Daniel du Preez and centre Paul Jordaan as “struggling”, which is invariably a coach-speak euphemism for “They won’t play in the next game.”

    Jordaan made a big contribution to the losing effort against the Blues in the first match on tour with his tackling, and he also scored an excellent try where he used his pace to capitalise on a good break from fullback Willie le Roux, who came into the line as first receiver off a loose scrum.

    Should Jordaan not be fit to face the Highlanders, Gold has a couple of considerations to contemplate, and it will be interesting to see if he moves JP Pietersen from wing to outside centre. That would enable S’bura Sithole to take Pietersen’s place on the wing, although there is always of course Odwa Ndungane, who came onto the field as a replacement last week.

    The juggling that may be required in the back row revolves around Philip van der Walt’s switch to a new role as openside flank against the Blues. Van der Walt has played mostly as a No 8 or blindside flank for the Sharks, but last weekend he found himself wearing the No 6 jersey as replacement for the injured Marcell Coetzee.

    Van der Walt got through a huge amount of work in the match and the Kiwi commentators were surprised when he was replaced after an hour. That decision was probably down to the fact Van der Walt was coming back from a short injury lay-off and needs to play himself back into 80 minute fitness.

    If Du Preez is not available, Gold has the option of moving Van der Walt to the back of the scrum and accommodating Keegan Daniel on the openside flank. Given how well Van der Walt played last week, however, it might be wise to stick with the former Cheetahs player in the all important openside flank position and playing Daniel at No 8, where he has of course played a lot of his rugby too.

    Another possible change could be a significant shift to the bench, where Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is now available again after serving his ban and should come into consideration in the wake of Kyle Cooper’s poor lineout throwing after coming on the for the last quarter of the Eden Park match.

    “I wouldn’t say that Kyle will be a sacrificial lamb as no-one will ever be a sacrificial lamb while I am coaching, but Chiliboy is in need of some game time,” agreed Gold.

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