Former Springbok wing Dean Hall will look to impress coach Dick Muir when the Sharks Invitational XV take on the Western Force in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night.
Hall’s career has been hampered by serious knee injuries. According to one doctor who examined him in 2002, his knee cartilage had turned into that of a pensioners. The winger fought his way back, signing for the Sharks at the beginning of the 2005 season, but failed to crack the Sharks Super 14 squad this year. However, he made several appearances for the Wildebeest in the Vodacom Cup, and is now hoping to play a part in the Currie Cup.
“This is really a great opportunity to prove ourselves to Dick,” Hall told keo.co.za. “Every player out there will be playing for a Currie Cup spot, so we know how important this game is.”
The Western Force seem to be the favourites, boasting a number of the Super 14 stars who impressed in the regional tournament.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game, as they have some quality players who most of us have never played against,” said Hall.
Brock James and Chris O’Young looked a talented halfback combination for the Western Australian franchise this season. If they get good ball from their forwards tonight, they will test the Sharks side.
They also have the advantage in the front row, as David Fitter, who has played for the Brumbies and the Wallabies, will pack down against a relatively inexperienced Sharks scrum.
In the loose, captain Luke Doherty, who has played for Australia at U21 level, will do battle with another Springbok, Solly Tybilika, who is one of the few to have played Super 14 rugby in this squad.
Dick Muir has put together a combination of bright youngsters and old hopefuls like Hall, who has just recovered from injury. After tonight’s encounter, Muir will have a good idea of just how deep the well of Sharks talent goes.
“The bonus is having Dick in control, as he brings an air of calmness to our game,” says Hall. “For myself, who has just come off an injury, this game will be a chance to build my confidence and hopefully win a place in the Currie Cup side.”
Western Force squad:
1. David Te Moana 2. Luke Holmes 3. David Fitter 4. Tyler Edwards 5. Matt Windle 6. Luke Doherty (c) 7. David Pocock 8. Richard Brown 9. Chris O’Young 10. Brock James (vc) 11. Brett Stapleton 12. Haig Sare 13. Zander Peden 14. Dan Bailey 15. Gavin DeBartolo 16. Ryan Tyrell 17. Kieran Longbottom 18. AJ Whalley 19. Elliot Kuhlmann-Hall 20. Josh Fuimaono 21. Will Brock 22. Vitori Buatava 23. Matt Shaw 24. Ben Ward 25. Ryan Lenergan.
Sharks Invitational Squad:
Forwards: Nardus Wessels, Skipper Badenhorst, Jody Jenneker, Robbie Harris, Corne Mollendorff, Werner Cronje, Claude Dry, Steven Sykes, Solly Tyibilika, Nico Breedt, Ryan Kankowski, Conrad Stoltz, Braam Immelman, JC Strauss, Vuyo Matomela.
Backs: Sandile Nxumalo, Rudi Dames, Craig Burden, Dean Hall, Okkie Vermeulen, Howard Noble, Dusty Noble, Greg Goosen, Grant Rees, Andrew Binikos, Frans Steyn and Mzwandile Stick.
By Jon Cardinelli