This morning Johann Muller walked into the Sharks’ hotel foyer with the broadest of grins after having been passed fit to play against the Brumbies by an ear, nose and throat specialist.
Mike Greenaway writes in the Daily News that Muller has a burst ear drum but, miraculously to the layman, he will be able to captain the team in Canberra on Saturday, eight days after sustaining a heavy blow to the ear against the Highlanders.
Flanker Keegan Daniel was the other casualty from the Dunedin match and he will test out his lower back injury at training this Tuesday afternoon.
The other injury worry is tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis, who is down to start against the Brumbies as per his usual rotation with Brendan Botha.
Du Plessis strained a thigh muscle during Monday’s fitness session, but if he cannot play there is no major issue, Botha will just lose out on his break.
In an interesting unenforced change, Rory Kockott is set to start at scrumhalf ahead of Rugby World Cup Springbok Ruan Pienaar.
The latter has had a quiet start to the season and he was not helped by the shoulder injury in the third round that led to him missing two matches.
And the effervescent Kockott took his chance. He ensured the Sharks advanced thanks to his explosive breaks around the fringes of the rucks and mauls, and this restricted Pienaar to the bench for two games when he recovered.
And, for this particular game against the energetic Brumbies, Kockott is perhaps better suited than Pienaar.
In an expected change, JP Pietersen will reclaim his place on the left wing from Waylon Murray after having been given a wake-up call by being dropped out of the match 22 for the Highlanders game.
In Canberra, the Brumbies were boosted by the apparent full recovery of captain Stirling Mortlock after his head collided with the knee of a Blues hooker Keven Mealamu on Saturday, causing him to leave the field.
“Stirling has pulled up fine to day,” Fisher told reporters.
“There are no ill effects. He didn’t even take a headache pill.”
The Sharks are preparing themselves for a massive effort on defence as well as on attack after having analysed the Brumbies’ last two games.
“Their past two opponents, the Chiefs and the Blues, had to make over 400 tackles between them,” assistant coach John Plumtree said.
“The Brumbies are a very patient side and extremely good at recycling the ball through phase after phase as they probe for a weakness in your defence. The key, of course, is not to give them the ball in the first place, and that is obviously a focus for us.”
On attack, the Sharks believe they have turned the corner after a positive performance in Dunedin.
“We notice that back home some folk are not too enthusiastic about the way we have been playing, but we were pleased with our game against the Highlanders,” Plumtree said.
“A lot of the stuff we have been working on in training came through and we are determined to build on it.”Tweet