Bismarck du Plessis rejects the suggestion that the Sharks lack depth in their tight five.
With BJ Botha, AJ Venter, Danie Saayman and Kees Lensing missing for tonight’s game against the Griquas, questions have been asked of the Sharks lack of experienced replacements in the tight forwards. But Du Plessis shrugged off that criticism, and declared his confidence in the young players coming through.
“Obviously you miss guys with experience but it’s not a train smash that they are not available,” he told Keo.co.za. “If you look at the prop position for example, Danie and Kees are out but then a guy like Deon [Carstens] comes in.
“You can’t say we lose to much with a replacement like that. And last week Robbie [Harris] played at prop and he had a great game, so we really are confident that we have enough cover in the tights.
“Depth doesn’t concern us.”
The Sharks have named a side without a lock replacement. Former SA U21 captain, Alistair Hargreaves, who started at lock against the Pumas, has been replaced by fit again, Steven Sykes.
Muir is likely to use eighthman, Ryan Kankowski, to cover the second row when either Jaco Gouws or Keegan Daniel come on as replacements.
With Lensing and Saayman sidelined, KZN U21 prop Nardus Wessels will make his Absa Currie Cup debut. Du Plessis spoke highly of the youngster.
“He trained with us on Tuesday and was on the captain’s run yesterday and from what I’ve seen of him, he is very impressive.
“It’s always a great thing to make your debut and he’ll be really fired up.”
The Sharks will be bolstered by the return of six Springboks for next weekend’s potentially season defining game against the Vodacom Blue Bulls, but will not want to cast their minds too far ahead of their game against Griquas tonight, lest the visitors repeat their first round win.
“Every team always targets the opposition’s forwards because that is the base the backs attack from,” Du Plessis said, predicting the Griquas’ gameplan.
“They are a bit like the Cheetahs in that they have a really strong pack but they are not limited to that area, their backs are good as well.
“We know they’ll come hard at us up front, like they did in the first round and they’ll look to maul us. Our challenge will be to stop them getting any momentum because we know what happened in Kimberly when they [the pack] were going forward.”
He asserts that the Griquas have assumed the role that the Sharks filled in the first round.
“In Kimberly we were the underdogs. We played our alternative squad and they dominated us in most areas of play.
“Today they come to the Absa Stadium as the underdogs and they’ll have to be at the very best to beat us here.”
By Ryan Vrede