Duban - The Sharks remain hopeful about the availability of Patrick Lambie and Craig Burden ahead of this week’s Currie Cup clash against the Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
Assistant coach Grant Bashford confirmed on Tuesday that the team was awaiting news from the Springbok camp. The two were part of the squad which travelled to Argentina last week.
Utility back Lambie had been named in the matchday 22 for the clash in Mendoza, but was not used. Seven days earlier, he was also on the bench against the Pumas in Cape Town, and was again not used.
Hooker Burden received his first South Africa call-up to replace Bismarck du Plessis in the touring squad that travelled to South America.
With the Rugby Championship taking a break this week, the Springboks are back at home and Bashford said he was hopeful Burden could feature against the Free State side.
“Craig Burden was the third-choice hooker. He didn’t even sit on the bench, so we’re hoping possibly that he’d be able to come back to us,” he said.
“Patrick Lambie hasn’t got onto the field, so maybe there’s an opportunity for him, but we don’t know what the Boks’ thinking is at the moment.
“I’m not sure the exact availability of them.”
Meanwhile, winger Odwa Ndungane has praised the young players in the Sharks set-up who have stepped up in the absence of the senior members of the squad.
Ten players from the Durban franchise were initially called up by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. Du Plessis and JP Pietersen then withdrew through injury, with Burden drafted in later on.
“It’s always nice to have a full strength team, but you always know that during the Currie Cup players will be lost to the Boks,” Ndungane said.
“You have to deal with it and the nice thing for us is that we have a good squad of young players coming through and it’s a nice opportunity for them to put up their hands for next season.”
The Sharks lost their first match of the campaign last week, going down 42-31 to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.
“It was obviously quite disappointing and not the result we were looking for,” the veteran winger said.
“We had a good start and let ourselves down in the second half, I think individually we just didn’t perform very well.
“Overall I think we were okay. We must remember that for some of our players it was the first time being there and playing against the Bulls at Loftus.
“That’s always going to be tough for anyone, experienced or inexperienced. I think we made a lot of mistakes in the game.
“We’ve had a look at the videos and hopefully those errors will be cut out against the Cheetahs this week.”
Despite that loss in the capital, John Plumtree’s men remain on top of the table, trailing the Lions only on points difference.
“We’re pretty satisfied with where we are,” Ndungane said.
“We’re top of the log after three rounds despite losing quite a few players, so to be sitting where we are is not too bad.”