The Sharks should have something resembling a full squad to pick from for next weekend’s potentially tricky away fixture in Wellington.
Most crucially, skipper Johann Muller should be fully recovered from a minor knee injury sustained during the game against WP and will take his place in the number 5 jersey. The Sharks tight five have finally started to find some rhythm and are approaching good form again, which would have made Muller’s non-availability a major blow. Fortunately, the three-week break seems to have come at just the right time for the Sharks lock and captain.
Tighthead prop Pat Cilliers will also come straight into the squad, having come through fine after 40 minutes with the Under 21s last week in Bloemfontein. The Sharks juniors didn’t do as well as they would have liked on that trip, with the Under 21s losing by 10 points and the Under 19s managing a draw. Cilliers and his cronies were further put to the sword this week, playing a practice match against the Bok team. Details are sketchy, but it sounds as though the Boks may have been a tad rough with the youngsters. Perhaps some scores will need to be settled as these youngsters come through – who knows?
Offsetting the good news of Cilliers’ return however, is the departure of BJ Botha. The popular DHS old boy has played his last game for the Sharks, but in Cilliers, there is a replacement ready to step out of the great man’s shadow and hopefully, in time, develop into as good a prop.
The third returnee is livewire scrumhalf Rory Kockott, who broke his leg in the home fixture against Boland and has thus, disappointingly, ended up missing out on an entire round of the Currie Cup. Rocket’s availability will create an interesting problem for the coaching staff, given Ruan Pienaar’s “9 or nothing” stance. Both players are too good to be left on the bench at this level of the game, but I guess we will probably see Kockott introduced from the wood this week, with Charl Mcleod the man to miss out. Scott Mathie has left for Leeds Carnegie in the UK 1st Division.
The Sharks will continue with Fred Michalak at flyhalf, while there is presumably a mad scramble going on in the background to secure the services of a competent pivot to direct matters in next year’s Super 14. Rumours suggest that promising Valke five-eighth Len Olivier may be a target, but with Pienaar opting to concentrate on becoming the country’s premier scrumhalf, the Sharks are left with the option of the journeyman Monty Dumond, the erratic wünderkind Frans Steyn, or perhaps even the untried Andrew Borgen or Riaan Swanepoel as flyhalf options.
Faced with those choices, Brad Barritt suddenly doesn’t seem such a bad flyhalf at all…Tweet