Sharks winger Odwa Ndungane has already been summoned to join the Springbok squad, as a replacement for his injured team mate JP Pietersen. Should CJ van der Linde fail to escape suspension for his stupid headbutt last Saturday, it’s quite likely that Jannie du Plessis will join Ndungane on the plane to Johannesburg.
The Boland trip represents an interesting prospect for the Sharks; they were really riding the crest of a wave going into the break and would consider themselves quite fortunate to have this hit-out against the lowly Bolanders up next, before facing tough home games against the Bulls and Cheetahs. That said, they need five points and they would be foolish not to take heed of the result when Free State also thought they just needed to pitch up to get a bonus point in Wellington.
Probably the biggest challenge for the Sharks coaching staff, though, will be managing the re-introduction of the Springbok stars in the week heading up to the Bulls game. Indications are that they will already be weaker than they may have foreseen for that encounter, with Pietersen, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira picking up injuries during the Boks’ drubbing at the hands of the Aussies. John Smit is also unlikely to come into contention for that game.
It is, as always, Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar who will present the biggest headaches as the coaches try their utmost to include these two in positions that may not necessarily be in the best interests of the team.
Possible Sharks team to face Boland:
15 Stef Terblanche, 14 Chris Jordaan, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Michalak, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (capt), 4 Albert van den Berg, 3 Robbie Harris, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Deon Carstens
16 Craig Burden, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Andreis Strauss, 22 Riaan Swanepoel