Not wanting to jump the gun here, but I’m afraid I have some rather first-hand experience of the sort of injury picked up by Sharks captain Stefan Terblanche against the Lions this weekend.
According to rumours we’ve heard, it sounds like Oom Stef dislocated his elbow, albeit just briefly, in the first ten minutes of the second half. It’s exactly the same thing that happened to this writer in the last competitive game of rugby I ever played, back in 1995. I fell badly in a tackle, put out my left arm to break my fall and ended up popping my elbow out, just for a second, as I hit the ground. The moment I tried to bend my arm (which, by the way, hurt quite a bit) the joint popped back in. The damage, though, had been done. The ligaments and tendons securing the three bones to each other and to the muscles in my arm suffered a frankly ridiculous amount of damage in the process. I should have been put straight into a cast, but for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here, wasn’t and to this day I feel the effects of the injury.
Enough melodrama from me, though (gosh, how I do like to ramble!). The point is that, if Stef did indeed dislocate his elbow, he’s not likely to be playing any rugby for the next dew weeks, putting him seriously in doubt for the Currie Cup semi-finals and final, should the Sharks make that. The Sharks have been relatively fortunate with injuries so far this season, but I fear this is the one that John Plumtree would least have wanted, since it robs him of the most senior player in the squad – and the only one he’ll trust with the captaincy. Finding a replacement in the number 13 jersey will not prove as tricky as finding another player to wear the mantle of captain and while Plumtree will no doubt bring in Riaan Swanepoel at 12 and shift Andries Strauss to 13 against the Leopards, the games that fallow are far more likely to see a Strauss-Adi Jacobs midfield pairing, one which will hopefully serve the Sharks well.
Trying to find someone to captain the team, though, is going to prove very difficult indeed, since I’m assuming Plumtree is unlikely to back a youngster like Alistair Hargreaves at this stage of the campaign, regardless of how good his credentials may seem to the fans. With John Smit also confirmed out and Johann Muller gone, the only other player in the regular match squad to have captained the Sharks at this level is Jacques Botes. Problem is, though, the livewire flanker has found himself playing off the bench when Plumtree has his full complement of loose forwards available. Andries Strauss and Pat Cilliers have both captained the Vodacom Cup side and it’s the former who may well get the nod for the rest of the campaign, since he seems to at least be a fixture in the side and is a strong and vocal leader on the field. Cilliers is a non-starter since his place in the run-on team will go to Beast Mtawarira after next week.
The other possibility, one that’s perhaps a little left-field, would be Keegan Daniel, a man who was asked to lead the side in a friendly match last year, with less that stellar results. Keegan’s attitude and approach to the game is far more mature this season, though and he appears to do a fair bit of talking on the field anyway. Could the former Dalian be the man to steer the Sharks through the next few games? He does seem to be the guy that took over the captaincy when Stef went off on Saturday. Only time will tell.
My pick would be Alistair Hargreaves, but if I were to be forced to put my money somewhere, it would be on Dries Strauss.Tweet