Sideline Solly snubbed by Sharks

Solly Tyibilika insists that he is not frustrated in being a bit-part player at the Sharks despite Jake White saying he is South Africa’s premier openside flanker.

The Bok coach made the claim on the away leg of the Vodacom Tri-Nations, but subsequently dropped Tyibilika for the home games against New Zealand and Australia.

With Warren Britz’s impressive form this season, Tyibilika is likely to watch from the bench when the Sharks host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in what Dick Muir has billed as a “titanic game”.

But the 27-year-old maintains that he is comfortable with his role as a reserve at the Sharks.

“It all depends on whether Dick wants to use me or not,” he told “Maybe Jake and Dick have different ideas about the structure they want to play and maybe I don’t suit the Sharks structure at present.

“It’s up to me to stay focussed now and then take the opportunity when it comes.”

That opportunity may be limited though. Muir has invested plenty of time and effort in developing young loose forwards, Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski. Both have been amongst the standout players to have emerged from the Sharks’ Vodacom Super 14 and Absa Currie Cup campaigns, and have provided solid backup to the established loose trio of AJ Venter, Jacques Botes and Britz.

Tyibilika has not played competitive rugby for three weeks, dating back to his return from Australasia. Two weeks ago he was released from the Springbok side on the Wednesday before the Test and Muir had already decided on his side.

Last week Tyibilika said he returned home to Port Elizabeth, and so was not considered for selection. He would not elaborate on what the purpose of the trip was or whether he left because Muir had decided to exclude him altogether.

This is not the first time Tyibilika has been snubbed by Muir. At the beginning of the season he couldn’t make the Sharks side and was struggling to get a run on start for the Natal Wildebeest.

He though refuted the suggestion that there might be a rift between himself and Muir.

“No ways,” he snapped. “Dick and I have a good relationship. He talks to me about my game and what areas he wants me to improve. He always tells me to stay focussed.”

By Ryan Vrede