The good news for the Sharks is that the sun refuses to set on Johan Ackermann’s first class rugby career and, if all goes according to plan, the 37-year-old will do battle for the Sharks in what should be an epic match against the Crusaders in Christchurch next week.
Sharks coach Dick Muir phoned Ackermann last night and asked if he was keen to have one last shot at Super 14 rugby because of the gap in the Sharks’ ranks after the tour-ending ankle ligament injury suffered by Steven Sykes, and the big fellow is only too happy to oblige.
Muir then gained permission from Ackermann’s boss at Kepu, the petroleum company that employs him as a marketing manager, and now it is a case of sorting out some paperwork at Sharks headquarters: Ackermann has been playing for Cape Town club Hamiltons and thus is registered as a Western Province player.
But this should not prove a problem because the Super 14 is an international as opposed to a domestic competition.
“Johan says he is in good shape because he has carried on playing since he left us and has played five games for Hamiltons,” Muir said.
Ackermann was supposed to have retired at the end of last year but rejoined the Sharks for the first three rounds of the Super 14 competition to help out when the young player that had been groomed to replace him, Steven Sykes, suffered a pre-season injury.
Muir said that Ackermann would not be considered for Saturday’s match against the Waratahs, but would play next week in Christchurch.
At training in Randwick on Tuesday morning, Albert van den Berg and AJ Venter alternated in the second row alongside captain Johann Muller.
Forwards coach John Plumtree is still to decide between opting for Van den Berg’s lineout skill or Venter’s mongrel and physicality, but may well go for the former because the lineout is a strength of the Waratahs.
As was the case last week, flank Keegan Daniel is a cause for concern because of a lower back injury.
He was kneed in the back against the Highlanders in week two of the tour but recovered to play against the Brumbies, only to take another blow in the same spot, forcing him from the field at the Canberra Stadium.
If he cannot play, Jean Deysel will step in. Deysel joined the Sharks on tour as a replacement for suspended Epi Taione.
Inside centre Bradley Barritt is another who did not train and, although his shoulder injury is improving, it is likely that he will not play, opening the door for Frans Steyn to move to 12 and Waylon Murray being recalled to the side at 13.
The Sharks trained in the rain on Tuesday morning and have not seen the sun in Sydney for more than a week.
Sydney is in the grip of a drought-breaking cold front, but the weather forecast suggests the sun will break through on Saturday.
Mike Greenway for IOLTweet