Sharks coach John Plumtree has challenged the fringe players in his Super 14 pre-season squad to prove to him that they have the desire to play in this southern hemisphere showpiece.
As his team enters the last phase of their December pre-season workout, before the festive season break, Plumtree said that he was looking at a couple of players to “make the step up” into the Super 14 ranks.
“The players who want it [inclusion in the squad] the most, will get it,” Plumtree told rugby365 during a break in training.
He added that depth in all positions is the key to success in the Super 14 and that a squad of 30 players who are all “up for the task” is a prerequisite.
“We are looking at some players who can step up [the Super 14 level],” the Sharks coach added.
The one position where the door is open to fringe players is at flank.
Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel and Ryan Kankowski will be the starting loose trio, while Keegan Daniel – because of his versatility which allows him to play in any of the loose forward positions – will provide cover on the bench.
That leaves Nikolai Blignaut, Skholiwe Ndlovu and Nic Strauss to do battle for the remaining loose forward spot in the Super 14 squad.
Plumtree also revealed that veteran lock forward Albert van den Berg could miss the start of the Super 14 season through injury.
Van den Berg is struggling with a shoulder injury that may require surgery.
“We’ll know on Wednesday if he’ll go under the knife,” Plumtree told Rugby 365, adding that the lanky lock could be ruled out for up to eight weeks – making him a doubtful starter for the first few rounds.
Flank Jacques Botes is also struggling with a groin strain, but he’ll be fit for the start of the Super 14 season, while the Springboks will only join up with their Sharks teammates in January.Tweet