The Sharks are still waiting on a raft of injured players. Expect any team announcement that is made to both late and littered with brackets.
The key injury concerns a this stage are scrumhalf (and first-choice goal kicker) Rory Kockott, flyhalf Brad Barritt and lock-cum-flank Steven Sykes. Kockott went over on his ankle against the Boland last weekend and is apparently unlikely to be fit in time for Saturday’s game against the Bulls.
Barritt has a pulled quad, in addition to a number of other complaints which kept him out of the Boland game, but is expected to be passed fit. Sykes has a knee injury of sorts – his chances are rated at 50-50.
The team could take on an interesting look depending on how many of the above players eventually do make it. Assuming that Kockott will not play, don’t be too surprised to see Monty Dumond named somewhere in the Starting 15, as he will take over the place-kicking duties. Dumond is most comfortable at flyhalf, but has also played at fullback for the Sharks. It’s quite likely that Andries Strauss will be demoted to the bench, with Barritt moving back to 12 and Dumond at pivot. The other option is to retain the 10-12 axis play Dumond in Stef Terblanche’s place. Terblanche is unlikely to be dropped, though, so may end up at wing in this case.
Plumtree can surely not be planning to play Sykes on the flank again, even if fit. The latest bolter to come out of the Sharks flank is that former Glenwood boy Nic Strauss has returned from a four-year stint with the Bedford Blues in the UK. Strauss last played in Natal colours in 2003, when he represented the Wildebeest in teh Vodacom Cup at number 8. He is a reasonably big guy, with intimidating facial hair, so surely he must be a good player, right? We all hold our collective breaths. Expect Strauss to be at 7, with Sykes back at lock if passed fit. Alistair Hargreaves will retain his spot should Big Steven not recover in time.
Possible Sharks team:
15 Terblanche, 14 Mvovo, 13 Murray, 12 Barritt, 11 Mentz, 10 Dumond, 9 Macleod, 8 Daniel, 7 N Strauss, 6 Botes, 5 Muller (capt), 4 Sykes/Hargreaves, 3 Botha, 2 Burden, 1 Carstens
16 Badenhorst, 17 du Plessis, 18 van den Berg, 19 Ndlovu, 20 Mathie, 21 A Strauss, 22 Swanepoel/Borgen