Sharks in injury hell after Steyn blow
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Dunedin – Springbok and Sharks centre Frans Steyn underwent emergency surgery in a Dunedin hospital on Sunday after a leg injury took a nasty turn for the worse.
His Super Rugby campaign is over and it is doubtful that Heyneke Meyer will have his services until the second half of the Rugby Championship, and he certainly won’t play in the June internationals.
Steyn suffered a heavy blow to his lower left leg in the 25-22 defeat by the Highlanders and was in excruciating pain, suggesting that there had been a fracture, but X-rays showed no break.
However, Steyn was in such pain that doctors investigated further and diagnosed “compartment syndrome”, which is heavy pressure build-up in a limb, and at 2.30am he had surgery to release the pressure.
He will have further surgery on Tuesday to close the wound and it is hoped that he will be well enough to fly home on Thursday.
For the Sharks the severity of the injury mirrors their season.
“It is not just that we are getting so many injuries, it is the nature of them that is such a concern – they are serious and we are talking broken bones and torn ligaments,” said dismayed coach John Plumtree.
The Sharks have almost literally run out of centres to call up from Durban following the injury to former Springbok Marius Joubert in the weekend’s Vodacom Cup quarter-final between the Sharks XV and the Lions.
Early in the tour, centre Paul Jordaan tore knee ligaments and went home, and was soon followed by scrumhalf Cobus Reinach (ankle ligaments), and now hooker Craig Burden is also on his way home.
Burden has a pinched nerve in his neck and is struggling to raise his arm.
The problem surfaced during the captain’s run on Friday when Burden struggled to throw the ball into the lineout.
Sharks XV hooker Monde Hadebe is on his way to replace Burden.
The other casualty from the Highlanders match, Tera Mtembu, is being kept on for the time being and his shoulder injury will be monitored.
It was initially feared that he had a serious injury, but X-rays suggested nothing more than bruising to the shoulder joint. He has his arm in a sling and will assessed later in the week.
Plumtree said it was likely that he would call over Springbok Willem Alberts to bolster the loose forwards reserves.
The big Springbok made his comeback from a shoulder injury a fortnight ago, and has played two matches for the Sharks XV.
“I am just waiting for a medical report to see if Willem is good to go,” the coach said.
“He won’t be ready to start a Super Rugby game just yet, but we can start getting him up to speed (by playing him off the bench).
Plumtree said that Steyn would not be replaced and that he might move JP Pietersen from wing to outside centre.
An alternative would be to start Piet Lindeque there after he took over from Steyn against the Highlanders.
The Sharks flew yesterday to Brisbane where they face the Reds in a must-win match this week.
They conclude their tour next week in Perth against the Force.
“They boys are sore, but positive that we can turn this tour around,” Plumtree said.
“We are obviously unhappy to leave New Zealand without a win, but feel we are playing better rugby than we were before departure.
“Our attacking game is coming along nicely.” – The Mercury