Grant Bashford, Assistant Coach at the Sharks confirmed today that Bismarck du Plessis had not broken any ribs in the Stormers’ match
Don’t write off Bismarck
For this tough hooker, the matter of a few of bumps and bruises is something he takes in his stride and Grant Bashford, Assistant Coach at the Sharks confirmed today that Bismarck du Plessis had not broken any ribs in the Stormers’ match.
“Bismarck ran well yesterday, he took no contact as a precautionary measure, but there are no broken ribs,” he explained. “He hasn’t been pulled out, we’re optimistic he will play against the Bulls on Saturday.”
He also confirmed that scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar was suffering from a Grade 1 collarbone injury and would out for between 10 and 12 days, but that he should be back for the Blues game.
For the Bulls match this weekend, the Sharks are expected to name pretty much the same squad as for the Stormers match, with one or two options depending on the bench. Charl McLeod may come in as scrumhalf backup to Rory Kockott who will start in the place of Pienaar, or Fred Michalak, who has had scrumhalf experience at International level, could assist.
The Sharks may have come in for criticism for not playing enough running rugby, but that would be suicidal given the conditions in Durban in February. Bashford also explained that conditioning-wise, the Sharks are still ‘getting there’.
“It was part of our plan to leave our Boks to recover after the Rugby World Cup, so we didn’t rush them back until 3 January where the rest of the squad had been going since the beginning of November. We thought the long break would be good for all of them. From a conditioning perspective, we knew our Boks would be off the pace, but it’s a long tournament and you don’t want to be peaking in Round One.”
Although they boast a 100% success record after two weeks, Bashford explained that, “A team is never completely happy with its performance, and there are areas for us that need looking at, where we could have done better.
“But we never expected to go into the tournament and hit our straps in Round 1 or 2. The type of rugby we are playing now is not what we’d like to, but sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards, and right now it’s better to have two wins having played the way we have.”
Discipline is another important aspect underpinning a team’s success, and already it has been shown to cost teams matches after only two rounds.
“In two friendlies, the Sharks were handed five cards,” admitted Bashford, “but the team addressed the discipline, the leadership in the side has discussed it, got it out the way before the competition started, and it’s good to see the way the guys have carried it through from talking about it to taking it onto the field.
“With the new ELVs, there is enough running with 15 men, so you put yourselves under huge pressure when you are a man down.”
The Sharks are expecting a backlash from the Bulls who suffered a huge defeat against the Crusaders last week, and Bashford admitted that, “We have huge respect for the Bulls. And they caught the Crusaders when they were flying and lost their own way a bit. Any side can get a hiding from anyone in this tournament if you don’t turn up but even so, if they hadn’t lost last week, it’s a Sharks-Bulls derby and the Bulls are always up for us.
“There are a lot of good players in their team and they aren’t the Super 14 champs for nothing. I know they lost personnel, but so have a lot of teams. They beat the Stormers away, but would be very disappointed with their performance against the Crusaders and that will bring out a sting in their tails.”
He felt that once the Crusaders got on top, they strangled the Bulls and didn’t let them back in the game, “which is something they do well. Also, the New Zealand sides have a point to prove after losing out in the World Cup, and to get things back on track, it is important for all their sides to do well in the Super 14.
“To play the Champions where they lost in the semis last year was probably the carrot the Crusaders needed.”
He admitted that it is vitally important for a team to win its home games, and slipping up at home puts pressure later on when traveling. However, the Sharks have a good record at Loftus, “We don’t see traveling or being away as that much of a problem – it hasn’t been in the past as we’ve proved,” he said. “The guys are looking forward to it. They’re also looking forward to a respite from the heat we’ve been dealing with in Durban.
“The ball stays dry in Pretoria, and we are looking forward to getting out of the humidity and playing a bit.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Looks like it could be humble pie time for yours truly – reminds me of another great Sauce scandal… Well, we were right about the injury and he remains a possible non-starter.
Of course there is the minuscule possibility that this is a smokscreen, but we hope not, and trust that Big Bismark will be there to hand out a few “Bissies”.Tweet