Sharks suffer Smittie blow

The Sharks’ pre-season preparations suffered a further blow with news that captain John Smit will miss an additional game through injury. This is in addition to the three opening fixtures he’s banned from participating in.

Smit has undergone an operation to a stomach muscle and coach Dick Muir ruled out the possibility that Smit will be fit for the Sharks’ fourth Super 14 clash against the Waratahs in Sydney.

“We hope he’ll be able to start training with us from March 5, but that’s the earliest we can expect to see him in training,” Muir told Beeld.

Other injury concerns are Adrian Jacobs, Dean Hall and Butch James. Jacobs and James have not recovered fully from the respective injuries that kept them out of the majority of last season.

Jacobs’ prognosis is not good, with expected sideline time of three months. James and Hall might have to ease their way back through a Vodacom Cup game or two before being considered for Super 14 selection.

Meanwhile Muir also made reference to the “official training squad” named on the Sharks website, and published by keo.co.za.

According to Muir, the names were not accurate. “I will have to find out where the names of that squad came from,” he said.

Whether that is the truth or merely an attempt in damage limitation remains to be seen. Effectively, by naming a squad yesterday, the Sharks showed their cards first in the high-stakes poker game that is the draft system.

It may be an elaborate ploy to mislead the other South African Super 14 coaches, but it is far more likely that a rethink may have been forced, which is hardly ideal for Sharks management.