It seems the Sharks will have to face the Griquas this Saturday without four of the Springboks who helped guide them to their Currie Cup win over the Lions this past weekend after the quartet were recalled to the Bok squad on Monday.
Craig Lewis writes in the Daily News that Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, Ryan Kankowski, Ruan Pienaar and Odwa Ndnungane were released from the Tri-Nations squad last week and turned out for the Sharks against the Lions, but have now been recalled to the 30-man Springbok squad for the Mandela Tribute Test against Argentina and the remaining Vodacom Tri-Nations matches.
According to a Springbok media release, the squad will assemble on Wednesday in Pretoria where they will stay until Sunday, before transferring to Johannesburg to continue with their preparations for the Argentina test on August 9.
Sharks coach John Plumtree said it was “pretty tough on the Unions” to exclude so many players from Currie Cup action, especially considering there “isn’t a Test this weekend”.
The Sharks were already feeling the Monday blues, having to prepare for their all-important match against the Griquas completely unaware as to which Boks would be available, initially there was speculation that a smaller 22-man squad for the Argentina Test might be announced to allow for more players to take part in the Currie Cup.
The Sharks are also set to still be without centre Brad Barritt and scrumhalf Rory Kockott, as the dynamic duo are still suffering from their hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.
However, this bad news will be offset by the likelihood that prop BJ Botha and flyhalf Frederic Michalak will make a return to action.
This past weekend, loose forward Jean Deysel made his return from injury and was the real standout performer for the Sharks.
Plumtree admitted that it was great to have such a powerful ball carrier back in the mix.
“We have missed that ball-carrying ability where someone consistently crosses the advantage line,” the Sharks mentor said. “I thought he had a really big game.”
Yet despite Deysel’s impact, the Sharks still lacked any real penetration on attack and it will be an area of concern for the coastal franchise who have scored just 12 tries in the competition thus far.
Only one more than Boland, who have scored the least tries of all the teams, and quite fewer than the other big unions, namely the Bulls (16), Western Province (16), Cheetahs (17) and the Lions (19).
“Our attack is a little bit of a concern because we are not quite getting the momentum we need,” Plumtree admitted.
“We had some opportunities, but the Lions defence looked after us quite well. We didn’t clear the ball well at the breakdowns at times and so the backs got slow ball, but we just need to keep going.”
Otherwise, Plumtree said he was quite satisfied with the other aspects of the Sharks game.
The Griquas are coming off a bye, but Plumtree said he thought this might work in their favour.
“I think coming off a bye will have refreshed them. It would also have given them a chance to get over any injuries, so we will have the utmost respect for them.
“They have beaten Western Province and could have beaten the Lions so it will certainly be a tough assignment for us.”Tweet