Solly gives Jake a headache

Bok flank Solly Tyibilika will not return to the Sharks Vodacom Super 14 squad until his form improves for the Wildebeest.

After starting against the Cheetahs and Crusaders, Tyibilka was sent to the Vodacom Cup side to work on certain aspects of his game after the Sharks were beaten 31-16 by the Waratahs in Sydney. However, he has struggled according to Sharks coach Dick Muir.

“We are concerned a bit about Solly, he didn’t perform as well as we would have liked for the Wildebeest. Hopefully he will pick up on his form, but he won’t be considered for the Sharks,” he said.

This decision comes as a further blow to Jake White’s World Cup preparations. The Bok coach will almost certainly take the flanker to France next year and was hoping he’d get sufficient game time in the Super 14. However, if Tyibilika’s form has dipped, them Muir cannot be blamed for omitting him from the Sharks squad.

Muir said he had originally planned to make use of a large squad for the Super 14, but would make as few changes as possible after the positive signs shown on their overseas tour.

“We knew that getting back from five weeks away on tour, we would have to make some changes to the team to play the Reds, and we will bring in guys from the Wildebeest,” he said. “But we won’t make as many changes as originally anticipated, the squad is in good shape.”

The Sharks meet the Rubble Reds in Durban on Saturday – a team with just one win from six matches (at home against the Force). While the home side should take the four points on current form, Muir is not underestimating the Australians.

“We are probably in the same process overall as the Reds; there are lots of changes, coaches have come and gone, both of us are still blending youth and experience, and have some youngsters coming along,” said Muir. “Certainly with the Sharks, there is plenty of depth. The Wildebeest are in outstanding form, so that makes the selection process that much harder.”

Muir said he would bring back key players for the Reds game while resting others.

“Monty is over his injury, so he will obviously be in the reckoning for Saturday,” he said. “[Centre] Andries Strauss has played the entire tournament so he will take a break this week. This opens the door of opportunity for someone like Brad Barritt or Waylon Murray. 

“Craig Davidson hasn’t had too much game time, so he will play for Wildebeest, and that gives Scott Mathie an opportunity to come onto the Sharks’ bench. [Loose forward] Keegan Daniel has been exceptional for the Wildebeest and will come onto the bench as well, while Braam Immelman and Daniel Farani will get game time for the Wildebeest. There is an injury concern over John Smit, but it seems positive he’ll play.”

“There are a number of young players showing great promise, and although a guy like Keegan is lighter, he makes up for it in mobility and anticipation on the field.  There are a lot of players in the Wildebeest side that have shown the competitive spirit and what they’re worth, Keegan is one of them. We would like him to bulk up for next year, but because he’s come on in leaps and bounds, he will certainly get a look in on the weekend.”

According to the Sharks website, Keegan comes from Humansdorp near Jeffrey’s Bay, and was schooled at Dale College. A first team rugby and cricket player as well as deputy head boy, he comes from a very sporting family. His younger brother Murray joined him in the first team in 2003, the first siblings to do so since 1976, while both parents represented Border at school level; his father Mike in cricket and rugby, and his mother Colleen in softball.