Butched Sharks turn to Monty

The confusion surrounding the fitness of Butch James continues as he was excluded from the Sharks’ official 30 man squad for the Super 14.

Coach Dick Muir’s announcement of his squad differed slightly from the premature release on the Sharks website earlier in the week.

James absence was a possibility, but Muir would have expected veteran Kiwi Tony Brown to be available as back-up. Because of extended club commitments in Japan, however, Brown has yet to join up with his new squad.

Resultantly Percy Montgomery is the only named flyhalf in the Sharks squad. Both Brent Russell and Ruan Pienaar cover No 10, but are named as fullback and scrumhalf respectively.

The muted optimism surrounding the Sharks’ bid to avoid relegation continues to wane, with the absence of James and Brown Muir’s most pressing concern. A gruelling campaign requires depth in all positions, and already the Sharks appear stretched.

SHARKS SUPER 14 SQUAD

15. JP Pietersen, Brent Russell
14. Cedric Mkhize
13. Grant Rees, Waylon Murray, Adrian Jacobs
12. Gcobani Bobo, Andries Straus
11. Odwa Ngungane, Henno Mentz
10. Percy Montgomery
9. Craig Davidson, Sandile Nxumalo, Ruan Pienaar
8. Jacques Botes, Daniel Farani
7. Nico Breedt
6. Warren Britz, Solly Tyibilika
5. Johann Muller, Albert van den Berg
4. Johan Ackermann, Steven Sykes, AJ Venter
3. BJ Botha, Danie Saayman
2. Skipper Badenhorst, Bismarck du Plessis
1. Brent Moyle, Deon Carstens

The five ‘untouchables’ are John Smit (recovering from a stomach operation), Jaco Gouws, Scott Mathie, Dusty Noble and Braam Immelman.

Butch James, Tsepo Kokoali and Dean Hall were unavailable for consideration due to injury.