Sharks head coach John Plumtree is looking forward to boosting his ranks with some Springbok power for the final stretch of the Currie Cup season.
The Tri-Nations will come to an end for South Africa this coming weekend, signalling and end to the mid-year Tests, and after the Johannesburg match against Australia, Plumtree will be counting the days until he can fortify his troops with national players, as the Springboks are released back to their provinces.
“We’re looking forward to getting some Boks back next week with a five-game run into the play-offs,” Plumtree confirmed.
“There is a stand-down period for some Boks, but not all.”
Rugby 365 reports that the coach also revealed that influential Sharks and Springbok skipper John Smit was nearing full fitness, having already moved into the swimming and cycling phase of his rehabilitation of his groin injury.
“He [Smit] is still around three weeks off [full fitness] and Ryan Kankowski will hopefully be available next week,” Plumtree told sharksrugby.co.za.
“If all goes according to plan, we could have six or seven changes next week.”
The Sharks will once again take up the Currie Cup slack on Friday when they meet the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington, after a long break of three weeks in between games.
Plumtree reckoned that the break was good for everyone involved with the Sharks, and that the squad were refreshed and raring to finish their season strongly.
“Everyone has come back refreshed and like me, really enjoyed the break. I’ve been enjoying the coaching this week. The players have come back showing great enthusiasm.”
“I think if you review the season to date, we have to be happy.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries, haven’t been able to select the same side in consecutive weeks and when a lot of questions were asked of the Sharks play, we weathered that storm and came back, winning some useful games.
“I’m proud of the players and of the management squad. In terms of our preparation each week, sometimes it’s felt like we were putting a pub team together late in the week, trying to find fit players. But if we have a good core of leaders and everyone paddles in same direction, we will play well.”
It will be another week of upheaval with regards to Sharks team selection this week, with Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn back with the Springboks, and Odwa Ndungane and Jannie du Plessis also coming into the Bok reckoning.
On top of that, skipper Johann Muller is out injured, which means Plumtree will probably have to make at least five changes to his side.
One shred of good news is that scrumhalf Rory Kockott will be available this weekend, despite still suffering effects from his injury.
“He is still in a bit of discomfort, but he’ll play off bench,” explained Plumtree.
“We’ll start with Charl McLeod, he’s been in and out of the squad and this is nice opposition for us to see what he can do.
“He’s an exciting, attacking player, a good defender and an area of his play we will be watching closely is his decision-making.”Tweet