Firstly, well done Sharks. You guys did us proud and proved that no matter how determined or desperate the opposition are, you guys just want this thing that little bit more. It was a superb performance in Hamilton, all things considered – the sort of performance that brings a team together and provides inspiration for when the going gets tough later on.
Secondly, well done Frans Steyn. We’re starting to see the benefits of the Andre Johns influence, for sure. This youngster is finally starting to settle and delivered his best all-round performance in a Sharks jersey for going on two years on Saturday. Sure, there was the blunder right at the death when he should have kicked the ball out, but for me, the performances of Steyn and JP Pietersen were a real positive to come out of the match.
On to the real talking point, though – the tour-ending injury to iron man Jean Deysel. I received confirmation late on Saturday evening that Justin Downey had been summoned to join the tour party and I see that the Sharks website confirmed the news yesterday. Deysel has done a knee ligament – fortunately, it’s not the one of the cruciates. He’ll be out for a good few weeks and should only be fit to play again towards the latter stages of the competition.
This is bad news – there’s no other way to look at it. I’m sure that if you had asked John Plumtree at the start of the season who the three players were that were absolutely vital to his campaign, Deysel’s name would have been there. It’s no coincedence that the Sharks’ winning streak in last year’s Currie Cup started the very game that Wolla came back from injury. He brings balance to the force that is the Sharks loose trio. Without him, they are all pace and not enough power.
As much as I rate Downey, the reality is, he is not a drop-in replacement for Deysel. He is far more of a ball-player, for one thing, one who prefers to jink rather than to bash. He will have an impact, of that I’m sure, but the whole pack is going to have to tighten up and one feels that it is now imperative to start with both John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis in the hope that they can collectively contribute enough to the tight-loose effort to mitigate the loss of the big diesel.
What worries me, though, is a quote on the Sharks site indicating that Skollie Ndlovu will be called into the match 22 to wear the number 19, with Keegan Daniel starting. I have absolutely nothing against Skollie, but with both Daniel and Jacques Botes already in the mix, we simply do not need, and cannot afford, a third “small” loose forward in the squad. Let Daniel come into the starting 15, because that makes sense, but for goodness sake, put Downey on the bench. Skollie can come in should either of Daniel or Botes go down.Tweet