Carnage in the Sharks camp
Share this article:
Surfers Paradise – As a trainee medical doctor at a Bloemfontein hospital, Jannie du Plessis once said that on a Saturday night after local football matches he treated more bloody injuries (casualties of warring fans) than a New Zealand or Australian counterpart saw in a year.
This season with the Sharks he has spared a thought for the Sharks’ team doctor, Alan Kourie, who has to deal with almost unprecedented carnage for a rugby team.
By the way, if Alan Kourie rings a bell, it is not the obdurate former Transvaal off-spinner who was a key figure in the Mean Machine of the ’80s, but his nephew, named in his honour.
“I must say, in eight seasons of Super Rugby amounting to more than 100 games, I have never seen a sequence of severe injuries such as the one currently experienced by the Sharks,” said the Springbok and Sharks tighthead prop.
“An example is the injury that has Francois Steyn still in a Dunedin hospital,” he said.
“He did not just get a blow to the lower leg, he suffered Compartments Syndrome (heavy pressure build-up in a limb), and that is the kind of damage I associate with car accidents.”
The Sharks have moved from New Zealand to Surfers Paradise, an hour south of Brisbane, where they are preparing for Friday’s match against the Queensland Reds.
They did not train on Monday because of the number of walking wounded in the squad, restricting themselves to light gym work.
There will be a full-scale session on Tuesday at which the team to start against the Reds will be finalised.
Monde Hadebe arrived from Durban last night and he could well find himself pressed into early service because of the rib injury that hooker Kyle Cooper is carrying.
No 8 Tera Mtembu also faces a fitness call.
He bruised his shoulder against the Highlanders, and has had his arm in a sling to afford the best possible recovery.
Du Plessis says it is uncanny that injury after injury is serious, instead of the usual muscle and ligament strains.
“We have had the breaking of bones and the tearing of ligaments.
“Of the match 22 that started against the Reds in last year’s quarter-final here, 10 players are at home with serious injuries – Bismarck du Plessis (torn knee ligaments), Willem Alberts (shoulder surgery), Beast Mtawarira (torn calf muscle), Jacques Botes (broken arm), Cobus Reinach (torn ankle ligaments), Paul Jordaan (torn knee ligaments), Tim Whitehead (broken arm), Dale Chadwick (stress fracture to the foot), Louis Ludik (shoulder surgery) and Craig Burden (pinched nerve in the neck).
“Add to that the players that we would have called up to this tour had they not been injured in the Vodacom Cup – Marius Joubert (broken hand) and Alan Dell (torn knee ligaments), plus Frans, who could not play last year because he had just arrived from France.
“Those are not your usual bumps and bruises, and all could have been relatively light injuries, but instead were serious,” Du Plessis said.
“This has been disruptive because as a team you have a nucleus around which you revolve, and over the last two or three seasons our nucleus has remained the same, but we have now lost more than 50 percent of our senior players, which is massively disrupting.”
But Du Plessis says the other side of the coin is that the team has been forced to turn to untested youngsters, and most have made their mark. Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock), Wiehahn Herbst (loosehead prop) and Tera Mtembu have been outstanding, and other guys on the fringe, such as Piet Lindeque, Sean Robinson, S’Bura Sithole and now Monde Hadebe are getting a feel of what Super Rugby is about, and we can draw on that in seasons to come.
“We have grown our squad. It has been sink or swim for these guys, and generally they are coming through.”
A big positive is that Jannie’s brother, Bismarck, has completed his rehabilitation programme and is set to play club rugby this weekend for the Jaguars and, if all goes well, he could be phased in off the bench when the Sharks return from tour.
“He is at the point where the injury has healed. He has trained really hard and now the knee needs to be tested in a game situation.
“Nothing in rehab can replicate the actual playing of the game, so we will all be holding thumbs.” – The Mercury