French flyhalf Frederic Michalak will make his Super 14 debut against the Stormers after he was withdrawn from the opening round clash against the Western Force.
News 24 reports (author unknown) that the Sharks, adopting a tactical kicking game in difficult ball-handling conditions, stuttered to a 17-10 win over the fancied Australian side.
Michalak, nursing a calf strain, was withdrawn by Muir who said on Sunday that the Frenchman would be fit for Saturday’s game against the Stormers on Saturday.
“Freddie could have played at a push or if, say, we had been in a final. But it would be crazy to gamble on the fitness of one of our top players at the start of the season.”
Michalak was probably never going to be risked but Muir delayed the announcement until shortly before kick-off. The Force had Matt Giteau at flyhalf but John Mitchell’s meticulous planning would have been disrupted when they found the powerful and physical Frans Steyn standing at flyhalf in place of the slightly-built, skilful Michalak.
The Force were not the only ones thrown a dummy. A couple of French rugby writers travelled out to South Africa to cover Michalak’s Super 14 debut – he remains big news in France – and are stuck in Durban, twiddling their thumbs for a week while they await the event.
Muir said that the Sharks had managed to avoid any major injuries and said he was delighted that the squad remains an effective unit in spite of the loss of their most experienced players of last year.
“I’m hugely relieved we won this game. We really did not know where we were in terms of our preparation and how we would deal with the new laws. The Force have played far more rugby under the new changes and they are a top side. It was not pretty and we may have overdone the kicking but to get out with a win is a huge boost.”
Rassie Erasmus’s Stormers, beaten by a brave, but limited, Bulls side at Newlands on Saturday, have certainly added some steel to their forward play.
Ironically, their attacking backline play was less impressive and they were unable to cross the Bulls’ line.
The Sharks game against the Stormers kicks off at 17:00 on Saturday.Tweet