Francois Steyn is set to play inside centre for the Sharks in their Super 14 round-11 match against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday, the first occasion he has started a match in his favoured position since the Rugby World Cup final in France last October.
Mike Greenaway reports for Daily News that Bradley Barritt is Dick Muir’s preferred No 12 but he is almost certainly out of the match because of the shoulder injury that forced him from the field in the 27-21 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra.
Muir said Steyn and Waylon Murray would be the likely centre pairing for the match, with Murray taking over from Steyn at 13.
In another forced change, AJ Venter could well be starting his first match for some time. Venter is tipped to take over from injured lock Steven Sykes. The latter has injured ankle ligaments and a decision will be taken this evening on whether or not to send him home and on a possible replacement to be flown over.
The Sharks conclude their five-match tour with a match against the Crusaders in Christchurch next week.
This morning the squad held a meeting to review what went wrong in Canberra and Muir said the players were frank in their appraisal of their performance.
“Two things came out of the review that the players themselves identified as needing urgent fixing: the discipline and the tendency of some players to play as individuals instead of trusting the team systems and the player next to them.”
Muir said the players had addressed the issue of the two yellow cards that went a long way to costing the Sharks the match.
“We have team protocols that deal with yellow and red cards. The senior players look at the offences and if the culprits have been negligent and reckless, they can be fined.
“It was decided that Ryan (Kankowski) and Frans (Steyn) should not be fined for their offences (not staying on their feet at the breakdown).
“However, it was felt by the group that the pair’s reaction to getting their cards was not good. Whatever the merit of the referee’s decision, he is not going to change his mind and the players know they have to just accept it and get on with it.”
Captain Johann Muller said the cards had fatally hurt his team.
“They scored most of their points when we were down to 14 men (for 20 minutes of the second half),” he said. “More than any other team the Brumbies make you pay when you have a player in the bin because they are the best at keeping the ball through multiple phases.
“They can take the ball through 15 to 20 phases, no problem, and if you are a man down you get found out. If you are playing a team that does not take it beyond three or so phases, it is not so bad.”
Muller said the players had spent Sunday in mourning but had resolved to start the week in a positive frame of mind.
“As of 7am on Monday, the Brumbies defeat is a thing of the past,” he said.
“To take a small positive out of the big negative, maybe losing our unbeaten status can be a liberating experience for us.
“Maybe we can play with less inhibition now that we are not worrying all the time about keeping that unbeaten statusTweet