DURBAN – There was good news and bad news for the Sharks when they arrived in Auckland on Sunday night following their heavy defeat to the Rebels in Melbourne at the weekend.
The bad news is that flank Jacques Vermeulen has been suspended for two weeks for foul play against the Rebels.
But in what will be an encouraging boost for the team ahead of their match against the Blues, former captain Philip van der Walt is on his way to New Zealand, having recovered from injury.
Van der Walt was one of the stand-out players for the Sharks last year, and his arrival will bring not only industrious loose forward play but badly needed leadership.
With respect to captain Ruan Botha, the Sharks are lacking leadership upfront. Botha cannot do it on his own, and Van der Walt will be a big boost for the pack.
The Sanzaar Foul Play Review Committee accepted a guilty plea from Vermeulen for dangerous play in a ruck after he was cited in Melbourne.
Vermeulen has been suspended from all forms of the game for two weeks, which means he cannot play against the Blues this week and next week against the Hurricanes in Wellington. In other words, his tour is over.
The incident occurred in the 49th minute of the match between the Rebels and Sharks played on Friday.
The Sanzaar Foul Play Review Committee of Nigel Hampton QC (chairman), Stefan Terblanche and Stephen Hardy assessed the case.
In his finding, Hampton ruled the following: “Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of four weeks due to the player’s dangerous charge into a ruck, making contact with the head of the player’s opponent.
“However, taking into account mitigating factors including the player’s youth, his excellent judicial record and early guilty plea, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to two weeks.”
The Sharks play the Blues at 8.30am SA time on Saturday.