Dick Muir admitted after the win over the Blues on Saturday night that they have concerns over a possible injury to Bok prop BJ Botha that resembles that of Deon Carstens.
Michael Marnewick writes for Sharksrugby.co.za that the good news was that Carstens made his long-awaited return to action on the weekend when he turned out for the Wildebeest in their win over Griquas in the Vodacom Cup at The Absa Stadium ahead of the top of the table Super 14 clash between the Sharks and Blues.
“BJ is struggling with an injury,” confirmed the Sharks coach. There was some prop rotation during the match and Muir explained that, “We wanted to play him through, but he keeps getting what we hope isn’t similar to Deon’s shoulder injury. “We need to make a proper assessment on the nerve in his shoulder, but we are troubled. He has a few concerning symptoms.”
The unfortunate consequence of bringing Botha on an off meant that the Sharks used up their full compliment of substitutions before using all their personnel. “We got caught a bit short with our subs,” explained Muir. “We wanted to bring on Charl McLeod, but we had used up our reserves, and we really needed him. Fred and Brad were struggling at the end, so it was quite heavy-going in the coach’s box!”
He confirmed that the early replacement of JP Pietersen was more precautionary than anything else. “He received a haemotoma [‘lamey’] on his thigh and couldn’t run at full pace, so we took him off, but he will be fine for the Lions game.”
The Blues had set the pace going into this encounter having scored 18 tries in their first three games, averaging six per match and were favoured to win by the bookies, so the Sharks victory was something of an upset. However, the Blues possibly didn’t play to the conditions as perhaps they could have.
“We have a huge amount of respect for the Blues, the style they play is the way forward, but conditions in Durban at this time of year make it difficult and I think they will agree,” explained Muir. “It’s simply not normal to play under these conditions – they did make it a bit tough.”
In Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes and Ryan Kankowski, added to that Albert van den Berg, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira, the Sharks certainly don’t lack for forwards happy to do a bit of running. That certainly added to the Sharks’ arsenal on the night.
“The mobility of our side was good,” said Muir, paying credit to the likes of Daniel who scored two tries on the night and earned the Man of the Match Award. “Also, the way we attacked them, rather than them attack us was good. But we didn’t do that in the second half, and that was disappointing for us.
“After the lead we had at half-time, we made things difficult for ourselves in the second half and that’s something we need to work hard on, because we got some easy points earlier and then gave away some easy points.
“We went out there in the second half saying we wanted to expand on our lead and get the bonus point,” he admitted, “but when they got that easy try, a soft try, it changed the momentum of the game completely. But it was good to see how we changed the momentum back, or it would have been a long second half.”
Fortunately, the game had started at a frenzied pace and the Sharks did enough in the first half to create a sizeable enough lead. Muir paid tribute to the team for their outstanding performance.
“We seem to have a really nice competitive edge in our group, and you want someone to spark things; Brad did exceptionally well, the loosies were outstanding, Bismarck too was good. There were a whole host of catalysts in the game.”
Muir felt that the game showed “A steady improvement which we are looking for, but we are not yet where we want to be.”
He also admitted that it is a really important week ahead for the Sharks as they take on the Lions on Saturday at Ellis Park. Despite the Johannesburg-based side losing three of their four matches, Muir admitted that a team writes off any other at their own peril. “In this competition you have to be flat out each game, and we will treat Saturday like any other.
“There is no easy team in this competition – you need to be on top of your game, every game. We don’t want to fall into any catches by underestimating anyone.”
He also admitted that with injury, and return from injury, “We might see a bit of rotation in the squad this weekend, give guys who need it some playing time.”
He also had some good news, adding that, “I’m sure AJ and Ruan will both be back, we know we will need all the personnel we have.”Tweet