The news that AJ Venter will miss the rest of the Absa Currie Cup and a spate of injuries to key players has left the Sharks in limbo.
Venter spent all day yesterday undergoing tests to see if he would be able to play in the remainder of the competition, but ultimately received the news that he would have to undergo a procedure commonly known as “scrapping”.
“The tendon that connects the knee cap to his shin bone has a slight tear and a build up of bone fragments in the area will have to been removed surgically,” Venter told Keo.co.za.
The operation is likely to take place this week and will sideline Venter for two-and-a-half months, meaning the 33-year-old will not play until the Super 14 in February 2007.
“The news that I’d have to miss the rest of the Currie Cup was really terrible,” he said. “You play all season in a bid to make the semi-final and hopefully the final and to have it cut short in this way is not the best news for me, considering the fortnight we face.”
The Sharks have suffered injuries to several other key players ahead of their vital match against the Vodacom Cheetahs. Impressive lock, Wouter Moore has been ruled out for the remaining fixtures after undergoing emergency abdominal surgery on Saturday following a ferocious tackle by JP Nel. Springbok flyhalf Butch James is unlikely to recover from a knee injury while prop Deon Carstens has pneumonia and will miss the trip to Bloemfontein.
Dick Muir tried to allay fears that he would be forced to field an inexperienced team on Saturday by citing the return of lock Johan Ackermann and prop BJ Botha. Both though are drastically short of game time, with Ackermann last playing in April and Botha in the Vodacom Tri-Nations Test against Australia on 9 September.
Venter though remained optimistic, and said that the team had enough experienced players who would guide the youngsters.
“We won’t struggle just because we’ve lost one or two players. That’s where the real value in the dual-squad system can be seen,” he said.
“Britzzie [Warren Britz] has done a great job as captain while I was away [on Springbok duty] and he together with guys like Jacques Botes and Kees Lensing will make sure they are on their toes at all times.
“Maybe the tension created by these little unsettling things is good,” he added.”I think it’ll keep the boys on the edge and sharp.”
By Ryan Vrede