With a number of previously-injured players making good progress over the last three weeks, John Plumtree gave a strong indication yesterday that he may look at “freshening up” his squad ahead of the match against the Crusaders in London on Sunday.
Had the Sharks opted to head straight from Hamilton to the UK, then they would obviously have stuck with the same 26 man squad who’d served them so well on their three-week Australasian tour – although I’m sure one or two guys would have probably headed back to Durban anyway as they wouldn’t have played in the final week. Making the trip via Durban, though, gives the opportunity to assess the injury situation, both in the tour group itself and in the wider squad. The good news for the Sharks, at this stage, is that it’s become more a question of who to leave out, rather than who to take along.
Of the 26-man tour squad, only Pat Lambie now looks doubtful for the trip to London, with a fracture to the middle finger on his left hand possibly serious enough to require surgical correction. He will see a specialist today, but may well be cleared to play against the Crusaders anyway. As a key player to the Sharks campaign, I’m sure no chances will be taken with his long-term health, though. Jean Deysel and JP Pietersen are both still on the sidelines, of course, with the former possibly due for a return to Vodacom Cup action this week already.
Possible returnees to the Sharks squad for the match against the Crusaders include prop Eugene van Staden, now over his shoulder concern, and lock Gerhard Mostert, who has proved his match fitness through several storming performances for the Sharks XV over the last month. The Vodacom Cup side is sure to benefit this week as well froma fresh injection of players who toured with the Sharks, including Dale Chadwick, Marcell Coetzee, Mark Richards and possibly even Anton Bresler, depending on what Plumtree decides to do with Mostert. Ross Skeate is another who is expected to start his comeback via the Vodacom Cup this week.
The Sharks group to play the Crusaders will be finalised today.Tweet