Flu floors Sharks

Brad Barritt and Odwa Ndungane could miss Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup encounter against the Cheetahs with flu.

Both players looked sharp and hungry in the victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls and their loss will be a big blow to coach Dick Muir’s plans to wrestle top spot form the Vodacom Free State Cheetahs.

The Mercury this morning reported that Ndungane had been in bed since Sunday while Barritt, who managed to train on Monday, has been battling the virus since Tuesday.

Waylon Murray is likely to be recalled along with 19-year-old Francios Steyn, who will cover at No 10 or 15 if any of the duo fails to recover. The pack who destroyed the Bulls remains unchanged.

But Muir refuses to to be disheartened by the situation and claimed the mood in the squad was expectant.

“There is certainly is a ‘big game’ feel about this one,” the coach told Mike Greenaway. “It is great for the players and the coaching staff to test themselves against the champions. We can’t wait for kick-off,” he said. “We love the big games and this game has all the ingredients to be a classic.”

The game is likely to follow a very different pattern to the Sharks bruising forwards battle against the Blue Bulls. The Cheetahs showed their penchant for an open and attacking game in their 42-27 victory over the Pumas last Saturday and Muir expects more of the same.

“There are certain things we do know: Free State have a very good kicking game – they like to put your back three under pressure; their pack is very skilled at the basics of lineout play, scrumming and mauling; they play a very structured game, but we also know that they will come with a few surprises.”

Sharks (possible): 15 Odwa Ndungane 14 Waylon Murray 13 Gcobani Bobo 12 Grant Rees 11 Craig Burden 10 Bradley Barritt 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 AJ Venter (capt) 7 Jacques Botes 6 Warren Britz 5 Steven Sykes 4 Wouter Moore 3 Danie Saayman 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Kees Lensing.
Subs: 16 Scott Mathie, 17 Frans Steyn, 18 Mzwandile Stick, 19 Andries Strauss, 20 BJ Botha, 21 Skipper Badenhorst, 22 Keegan Daniel, 23 Ryan Kankowski