Sharks hit by injury curse
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Yesterday morning the thrust of the message in Sydney from the Sharks management to the players was “attack to win”, only to half an hour later see one of their most attacking players, Paul Jordaan, crash out of the Australasian tour with a serious injury.
It was Jordaan that came within metres of saving the Sharks against the Cheetahs at the weekend after an 80th-minute, 80m break, but just half an hour into the Sharks’ first training session of the tour he tore knee ligaments in a game of touch rugby.
“I am not sure whether to laugh or cry,” coach John Plumtree said, although the pained look on his face suggested he was inclined to the latter. “It was hardly funny when our injuries got into double figures and now we have hit the 16-mark.
“Our team talk before our first training session of the tour was all about the need to be attacking and to be positive despite anything that happens over the next month, and then we see a key player trip over his feet and injure knee ligaments,” Plumtree said in disbelief. “It is a pity for Paul and a pity for all of us but we just have to carry on.”
Jordaan, a former SA Sevens and SA Schools player, stumbled unopposed in a warm-up session in Sydney ahead of the tour opener against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Plumtree said that he would promote out-of-favour centre Frans Steyn from the bench to replace Jordaan and that Paul Lindeque, a former Sharks Academy player who starred for Tukkies in the Vodacom Cup, would provide cover from the bench.
With Jordaan set to return home, and with the Sharks having left Durban with just 23 of the 26 players they are allowed according to Sanzar rules, Plumtree has agreed the call-up of Sharks XV players in wing S’bura Sithole and prop Danie Mienie, and there is now place for a further call-up.
The attempt to loan Lions prop JC Janse van Rensburg from the Lions has run into complications because he has recently signed with French club Bayonne.
“We can’t afford to dwell on the negative,” Plumtree said. “The message to the players is that we are overseas to attack and win. We have had out share of adversity and now it is time for us to show what we are made up.
“We must go for all-out attack. We have grown too predictable in attack and too easy to read by the opposition,” Plumtree said. “We must get more width in our game and players must grow used to expecting the expected.”
Next week, against the Highlanders, Plumtree can expect the return of Springbok wing JP Pietersen.
Pietersen confirmed he is about to sign for a Japanese club but said he wanted to continue playing for the Sharks and the Springboks.
“I am loyal to both the Sharks and the Springboks and I am trying to broker a deal that sees me playing for both in the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup,” Pietersen said. He is currently injured and is expected to miss this weekend’s game but return for next week’s game against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
“After nine seasons with the Sharks I feel the need for a change of environment but at the same time I want to carry on playing for them and the Springboks,” he said. “That would mean Super Rugby next season and availability for the end-of-year tours in 2013 and 2014.
“I plan to be home to qualify in all tournaments ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.” – The Star