The Sharks Currie Cup preparations have begun in earnest as the squad re-assembled for training ahead of a compulsory friendly against the Pumas next Friday.
The Sharks will travel to Witbank and although the Boks will be missing, the Emerging Bok players will be back and available for selection.
Assistant Coach Grant Bashford admitted that the thinking going into the Pumas match has a two-fold angle: assessing depth as well as starting to prepare the team for the opening Absa Currie Cup match against Western Province the following weekend.
“It’s a bit of both, I don’t think you want to go out there and play with an all-out trial team, but there will be people we would like to have a look at in certain positions,” said Bashford.
“We’ll pick people if we need to have a look at them, but in the same breathe you want to try and take a bit of momentum from that game into the next week’s match against Province.”
Two years ago in a Compulsory Friendly match against EP, one Jean Deysel emerged as a real talent in that game and the rest so this match may well herald the emergence of another future star.
Bashford confirmed that following the British & Irish Lions game, The Sharks’ Super 14 players were rested for a week and the remainder of the squad who hadn’t played much were on a conditioning block.
“Everyone has arrived back energised, relax and revitalised, ready to go,” he explained.
Missing from the opening training day were the Springboks, the five players currently with the Emerging Springboks and a few players on the injury list or nursing bumps and bruises.
Jannie du Plessis was not at training but is expected back today following a knock he took in the Lions match, similarly Riaan Swanepoel who was also injured in that match but is expected to be back for the Province game.
“Waylon Murray is coming off surgery but we’re hoping he’ll potentially be ready for the Western Province game [on Saturday 11 July]. He ran on Monday but it all depends on how he responds to training, we should know later in the week.”
Alistair Hargreaves who injured his ankle in the Blues game earlier this year “is still out for a while,” confirmed Bashford.
Obviously squad depth will once again be tested in the absence of a number of players away on national duty during the 2009 Lions Series as well as the Tri Nations that takes place thereafter.
“When you lose ten players, it’s very difficult to be honest,” Bashford agreed.
“Obviously it affects any team and we’re not the only side in the competition that’s lost players, so it will test our depth, some of which is pretty much untried; it’s going to be interesting to see how we go.
“Even guys like [Luzuko] Vulindlu who has played Vodacom Super 14 rugby but never played an Absa Currie Cup game, and now he’s an Emerging Bok, so they still have to play a lot at this level.
“It’s going to be a step-up for some of them but we’re all certainly looking forward to the challenge.”
This article is courtesy of rugby365.comTweet