Durban – The Sharks are rapidly assuming full strength for Saturday’s Currie Cup final against Western Province, and could well have not one, but two Du Plessis brothers in their front row.
This follows the revelation that Jannie du Plessis is making a miraculous recovery from a hand injury, and that his brother, Bismarck, has been cleared by a Saru hearing.
Bismarck appeared before a judicial hearing on Monday to answer allegations of foul play in the semi-final against the Cheetahs.
It was ruled yesterday that the stamping on Lappies Labuschagne was “accidental” on Bismarck’s part.
Advocate Andre Oosthuizen ruled that, based on the facts before him from the player and assistant referee Cobus Wessels, as well as video footage of the incident, the contact made by Du Plessis was accidental.
Meanwhile, Jannie du Plessis, who broke a bone in his left hand during training early last week, will have his cast removed this morning.
If he comes through a scheduled scrumming session, he will take his place in the starting line-up.
The good fortune for the elder Du Plessis is that he does not use the left hand for binding in the scrums. The healthy right hand is the one he uses to bind on the hooker.
The Sharks have already been boosted this week by the return from injury of flanker Willem Alberts and loosehead prop Beast Mtawarira.
If Jannie is passed fit, that would give the Sharks four of the Springbok pack that started against the All Blacks three weeks ago.
In last week’s semi-final, only Bismarck of these four played against the Cheetahs.
The Sharks’ coaching staff were understandably jubilant that Bismarck has been cleared to play when many believed he was in for at least a one-week suspension.
“Bismarck has a major presence in our team and having him gives us a natural lift,” said assistant coach Sean Everitt. “Just from a physicality point of view, he offers a great deal and he obviously brings some apprehension to the opposition.
“He imposes himself on the field and he’s very good on the ground turning ball over, so it’s huge to have him. Bismarck leads from the front and others follow,” Everitt said. “He’s a leader within his own right. It is a huge relief to get him back.”
He added that Du Plessis had expressed relief at his reprieve and promised to make the most of the opportunity.
Of course, with Kyle Cooper over his shoulder injury, the coaches will now have both hookers at their disposal in the final.
“Kyle is also very difficult to stop with ball in hand because of his low centre of gravity and his line-out throwing has been really good,” Everitt said. The Sharks have been well served by a host of youngsters during the three-month campaign, but it is clear the coaches recognise the need to have their “big game” players in service in the final.
“We can’t use inexperience as an excuse,” Everitt said of the return of the star players.
“We have Springboks who have played under massive pressure in the Rugby Championship, and hopefully they can play to their potential and help us achieve the result we want.”
The backline, which remains unchanged, were being drilled in the art of containing the attacking threats of their counterparts, game-breakers Gio Aplon and Cheslin Kolbe.
“If we can close down their space, hopefully we can catch them on the wrong side of the field, turn them over and convert that into points,” Everitt said.