The Lions could be up against it in the front row this weekend should the Sharks be successful in their attempts to have Jannie du Plessis released from the Springbok squad for this weekend’s match.
Already bolstered by the return to fitness of another Bok prop, Deon Carstens, John Plumtree’s team would dearly love to have their first-choice tighthead available for this must-win clash at a venue where they have struggled in the recent past. Du Plessis has been on the Bok bench for all three Tri-Nations tests to date, but his involvement has been limited, amassing no more than half an hour’s total game time over the course of three weeks. The release of fellow Bok bench-warmers Ricky Januarie, Andries Bekker and Chilliboy Rallepele sets a clear precedent and the the Sharks will be hoping that SARU see sense and allow the big doctor some much-needed match practice this weekend.
Emerging Bok prop Pat Cilliers, along with under 21 youngsters Wiehahn Herbst and Dale Chadwick, has done an admirable job deputising at tight head, but the Lions have always seem to have quality players up front and the Sharks would feel much more comfortable with their two Bok props fronting the challenge.
There is speculation that the Sharks have also requested that Ruan Pienaar be released but given the player’s recent penchant for injuring himself, that request is almost certain to be denied. Ryan Kankowski and Odwa Ndungane, both members of the Bok squad that is bound for Australia on Monday, have been released and will be available.
Sharks technical analyst Deon Kayser, meanwhile, has admitted that the Sharks don’t really know what to make of the Lions this season, saying that it will be difficult to prepare for them since they change their team so frequently and tend to blow hot and cold. The Sharks don’t know what they’re going to be up against in Johannesburg his weekend and that fact seems to be causing the coaching staff a little consternation.Tweet