Durban – It was a day of pleasant surprises for the Sharks as they began preparations for their opening Vodacom Super 14 match against the Chiefs at ABSA Stadium. Sport 24.co.za
Last week there were several players on the doubtful list ahead of the first fixture. They included some key players such as scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, who underwent surgery during the off-season, as well other players with international experience such as Adrian Jacobs and Deon Carstens.
Jacobs injured a hamstring in the warm-up before the match against the Stormers in Cape Town, but was back in training on Monday. Loosehead prop Carstens was also back in the fray quicker than expected, as were Rory Kockott (injured shoulder against Stormers) and flanker Jacques Botes.
But the most pleasing comeback was that made by Pienaar. Although he completed his rehabilitation last week, he was expected to take a bit longer to get himself match ready, but he took part in training and now it seems almost certain that he will be part of the Sharks 22 for the clash with last year’s beaten finalists.
It is unlikely he will start, for the Sharks management are taking a conservative line on players who have only recently come back from injury for the two matches that will be played in South Africa before they embark on a tough five match tour of New Zealand and Australia.
The Sharks know that they need as many fit players as possible for the tour, and are reluctant to take any risks before departure.
The smart money is on Pienaar specialising mainly as a scrumhalf for the Sharks this season, but he could well find himself coming on as a flyhalf from the bench against the Chiefs. Monty Dumond’s quiet games in the Neo-Africa series in Cape Town have made the little known newcomer Steve Meyer the front-runner to wear the No10 against the Chiefs.
The Sharks need to find a solution to the off-season loss of the injured Argentinian Juan Hernandez as a matter of urgency and their lack of experience in some key areas in the backline could prove their Achilles heel in the coming season.Tweet