The sun may be shining in Sydney this week, but there’s a dark injury cloud that still hovers over the Sharks ahead of their Super 14 semifinal showdown with the Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.
Jan de Koning of Rugby 365 reports that for the second week running injuries are forcing Sharks coach Dick Muir to delay the announcement of his team.
Last week, ahead of their 47-25 rout against the Chiefs, Muir delayed the announcement of the team till the day of the match – as he waited for captain and lock Johann Muller (calf injury), prop BJ Botha (calf) and utility back Francois Steyn (ribs) to recover.
In the end only Muller made the cut, with Botha and Steyn watching the team’s best display of the season from the sidelines.
The World Cup Boks – Botha and Steyn – remain on the team’s doubtful list, where they are joined this week by veteran utility forward AJ Venter.
“Francois [Steyn] and BJ [Botha] both have not been cleared to play yet,” Muir told rugby365.com from the team’s base in Sydney.
“We also have a slight injury concern over AJ [Venter], who has a hand injury. I’m not sure how serious that is, but all the other players seem to be fine.
“We’ll again hold on with announcing our side and we’ll leave it as late as possible,” the coach said, adding: “We’re pretty flexible as a group like that and can wait.”
He said he could release a provisional team by Thursday, but may again wait till Saturday before finalising the starting XV.
“We will monitor it [the injuries] as the week goes,”
Muir confirmed that the team’s Tongan torpedo, Epi Taione, will be in the selection mix for Saturday.
“Whether we start with him or put him on the bench I’m not sure yet, but he’ll probably be on the bench,” Muir said of the player that made two appearances as a second half replacement on the flank, before receiving a six-week ban for a headbutt against the Hurricanes earlier in the season.
While Muir has some injury concerns, at least the weather is playing along this week.
During their most recent visit to Sydney, a 10-25 defeat at the hands of the ‘Tahs just under a month ago, the visitors were at the wring end of a 13-day non-stop downpour.
This time the rain has stayed away and the players have basked in lovely warm weather.
“The weather has been kind to us,” Muir said. “The last time we were here in Sydney it was terrible, 13 days of straight rain. At least we’re getting good weather this time and hopefully it will stay till Saturday,” he added.Tweet