The very last thing the Sharks need heading into this weekend’s crunch match with Griquas is further upheavals in the front row, but it looks like that’s exactly what they’ll get.
The scrum was the one area that didn’t look particularly good against the Lions on Saturday and coach John Plumtree admitted in an interview on News24 that he had some concerns about the front row and that Pat Cilliers wasn’t really enjoying himself much at tighthead at the moment. To make matters worse, Deon Carstens has been playing with an injury and hasn’t been his usual destructive self at scrum time.
Jannie du Plessis did well to steady the ship when he came on against the Lions, but along with Odwa Ndungane and Ryan Kankowski, he is unlikely to be available to the Sharks this weekend. All three will depart with the Springboks on Monday ahead of their Tri-Nations tour to Australia and New Zealand. Cilliers himself is apparently battling a hamstring injury, while it is unknown at this stage whether Carstens’ injury was in any way exacerbated against the Lions.
Worst case scenario would involve losing both for this weekend’s game, leading to a front row comprising two under 21 props alongside hooker Craig Burden – himself not noted for being an experienced scrummager. Burden is understood to be nursing a bout of flu, just to make matters somewhat worse, if that’s even possible. Wiehahn Herbst would appear odds-on to start at tighthead prop, with Dale Chadwick sure to come into the squad if Cilliers is ruled out. If both Carstens and Cilliers are deemed unfit to play, then somebody like Sabelo Nhlapo may well get a look-in, with both Chadwick and Herbst brought into the run-on team.
Keegan Daniel will come in at eight in place of Kankowski, with Justin Downey sure to crack the nod in he number 19 jersey. Either Chris Jordaan or Luzuko Vulindlu will come in for Ndungane on the right wing, while there are apparently also some doubts over Riaan Swanepoel’s fitness. The good form showed by Monty Dumond, though, will be a relief, as a fit-again Juan Hernández could always take over from Swanepoel at centre if required.Tweet