Kiwi the key for Sharks

Sharks coach Dick Muir faces an anxious wait to see if Tony Brown will be passed fit to play against the Brumbies in Saturday’s Vodacom Super 14 match.

The former All Black flyhalf injured himself in his first game for the Sharks against the Crusaders, which saw 19-year-old Bradley Barritt wear the No 10 jersey in Sydney.

“Tony is vital to our game,” Muir told Mercury rugby writer Mike Greenaway. “What we really need is for our young backs to be playing off him. He is the pillar around which we want to base our backline.”

Meanwhile, John Smit is expected to start for the Sharks. Muir believes Smit, who played 40 minutes of Vodacom Cup rugby for the Wildebeest on Saturday, would add more value to the team by getting straight into the game.

“I think it is fair enough to say that we have had problems in the line-outs and John will make a big difference in that regard,” Muir said. “He is not yet fully match fit and is probably only good for 40 minutes, so it would be a better idea to play him in the first half rather than have him on the bench [in case he has to come on early in the game because of injury].”

Muir could also replace 19-year-old centre Waylon Murray with the experienced Adrian Jacobs, who impressed for the Wildebeest.

“Adi was one of our best players last year and it is a pity that he went down with a shoulder injury in pre-season. While we have some wonderfully talented youngsters, we also need to have experience. Against the Waratahs, we fielded a virtual U21 backline [apart from Percy Montgomery] and it was evident that the balance between experience and youth was not right.”