Sharks sweat on back row bulldozers

Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel are in a race to be fit for the start of the Sharks’ Super Rugby campaign.

The back rowers are being treated for injuries that coach John Plumtree fears could preclude them from the opening game Super Rugby fixture against the Bulls on 24 February. The duo are central to the Sharks’ success, with their ball-carrying ability a source of momentum. Plumtree said he was hopeful that they would recover.

Meanwhile, injury-plagued scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann tore a pectoral muscle during a gym session and will be out for four weeks.

The Sharks have resumed their pre-season programme after a short festive season break and Plumtree is pleased with their progress. He was also optimistic about the squad’s depth, so crucial in an extended Super Rugby campaign.

‘If you look at our forwards, there is a lot of experience there now and some of these guys have been playing Super Rugby for five or six years. In the backs, there is a mixture of experience and youth,’ he told the Sharks’ official website.

‘We’ll see an introduction of young players as well during the campaign which is positive going forward. I think we’re in good shape but it’s a long competition isn’t it? If you lose two or three guys to injury, especially if it’s in the same position, then suddenly you can come under pressure. But the U21s did well last year and our Vodacom Cup side is full of promising youngsters as well so we’ll also able to draw from them.’