The Cell C Sharks can count on 3 Springboks who return to the side to take on the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday evening in what is shaping up to be a massive South African Conference derby.
JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have returned from Japan and no time has been wasted introducing them to the starting line-up, while Willem Alberts has been given the all-clear to play after spending time rehabbing an injury.
JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have also proven themselves at training and they form a new centre partnership.
Ryan Kankowski will join the elite group of Vodacom Super Rugby centurions when he plays in his 100th game for the Cell C Sharks, in a loose-forward bolstered by the return of Albert, especially in light of the kind of talent that lurks at the back of the Stormers scrum in the shape of SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen.
The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the return of Springboks Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen from Japan, as well as flank Willem Alberts from a hamstring injury.
Both Japanese-based backs were spotted training with the Sharks on Monday after their respective teams were eliminated from the league in Japan.
Meanwhile, barn-storming loose forward Alberts has been training with the squad for sometime now and is finally in contention for selection as the Sharks prepare to travel to Cape Town to take on the undefeated Stormers.
Good news appears to suddenly be coming in clusters for the Cell C Sharks, who have followed on from their opening Vodacom Super Rugby win against the Emirates Lions with what for director of rugby Gary Gold will be a pleasing wave of important players returning to the mix.
On Sunday morning, the day after his team scored what he called a “relieving” win over the Lions, Gold received the news that the 2 Japanese clubs that backline kingpins JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn play for were both knocked out of their competition this past weekend. That means they will be back sooner rather than later, and will probably be available for the crucial game against the Stormers in Cape Town the week after next.
“I suppose it’s not nice for those players to lose but it is good news for us,” grinned Gold.
Then on Monday a man that Gold would really like to see in action as soon as possible as he is such an important cog in the forward machine, Willem Alberts, took part in full training for the first time. He could also be ready for the Stormers game.
Also at the 2-hour middle of the day training session on a Kings Park outerfield was Ryan Kankowski. The former Springbok No 8 is now into his 2nd week back from Japan and will be available for Saturday’s clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus.
It is still unsure as to when Springbok Willem Alberts will return from injury as the Sharks prepare to face the Cheetahs in Round One of Super Rugby this weekend.
Alberts, who damaged a hamstring while on duty with the Springboks, has been out of action since before the Rugby Championship in August last year.
The flank went down with the injury right before the Boks first game against Argentina at a soggy Loftus Versfeld, this allowed Warren Whitely to make his debut.
Alberts also missed the next game against in Salta.
Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts are back training with the Sharks after long injury layoffs.
Lock Du Toit missed much of last season with a serious knee injury, while loose forward Alberts was laid low after a back operation last July.
The duo are back in training as the Sharks start their preparations for this year’s Super Rugby competition. Both have been training well and showed no discomfort from the injuries.
There was however less good news for lock Stephan Lewies, who will reportedly remain sidelined with injury for an extended period.
It is unlikely that the Springboks will rest a few key forwards for their year-end tour to Europe.
According to reports on Sunday, there will be no respite for stalwarts like Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen as Boks aim to pick their best possible team for the tour.
The Boks play four Tests back-to-back against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).
Willem Alberts has been ruled out of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship tour to Australia and New Zealand and will be replaced in the 30-man squad by Warren Whiteley.
Alberts missed both Test victories against Argentina because of a hamstring injury and he underwent a fitness test on Thursday afternoon.
Although his hamstring is recovering well, he experienced some nerve irritation in his lower back and was sent for scans.
Willem Alberts says he’ll be ready to play for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship encounter against Australia in Perth on 6 September.
Loose forward Alberts and lock Victor Matfield were on Monday recalled to the Springbok squad for the trip Down Under. Both missed the home and away Tests against Argentina because of injury.
Matfield suffered a knee injury during a cleaning drill, while Alberts withdrew shortly before the game in Pretoria as he picked up a hamstring tear during the captain’s training run.
The Cell C Sharks will field a team resting Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts (all on the bench)… and also still without Patrick Lambie, but with Jean Deysel captaining the side and Frans Steyn back in his favoured position of Inside Centre.
This of course means that Tim Swiel starts at Flyhalf, Dale Chadwick at loosehead prop, Kyle Cooper as starting hooker and Lourens Adriaanse as starting tighthead prop.
S’Bura Sithole is back at Outside centre and JP Pietersen moves back to Right wing, with SP Marais protecting the last vestage.
3 Other returning Springboks get starting positions, namely Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies and Lwazi Mvovo.
Jake White has hinted at a bold strategy to rest his returning Springboks with the Sharks having sewn up the South African conference and guaranteed some play-off rugby already.
The Sharks have an unassailable hold on the South African Conference and cannot finish the tournament any lower than third.
However, the plan is to finish in the top two and earn a direct route to a home semifinal without having to play a qualifying knock-out match.
White has indicated that if they are to really be competitive when it matters, it may require some tactical selection policies.
As the announcement of the Springbok squad is awaited on Wednesday, speculation as to the possible composition of the side is gathering momentum.
At this stage it would appear that Johan Goosen is not over his injury worries and that Handré Pollard would leapfrog into the starting berth at flyhalf.
At lock Lood de Jager should get the nod and a 1st start at No 4 lock, in the absense of Flip van der Merwe, who is out with a longer term injury.
Cell C Sharks backline star Frans Steyn is unlikely to feature for the Springboks in the June Internationals.
Steyn was one of 10 players who took no or little part in the field sessions at the Springbok training camp in Durban, which concluded on Wednesday.
Steyn has been suffering from a chronic knee dysfunction which has been managed by Sharks and upon a request from his franchise, the load on his knee was limited by keeping him out of training.
While the severity of the injury will only be confirmed later in the week, Steyn is expected to miss the June internationals. It is also possible that Steyn could miss the latter stages of Super Rugby, which would be a body blow to the Sharks.
Jake White has sprung a few surprises for the Cell C Sharks clash against the ever improving Crusaders in Christchurch, this coming weekend.
This is the fourth article in the series of Cell C Sharks Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2014. We do 2 articles per week per South African Super Rugby participating franchise.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOOSE FORWARDS in the Cell C Sharks 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed the names of 10 Springboks who were awarded long-term national contracts in August this year, which will see them remain in South Africa until the end of 2015.
As we approach the final of the Currie Cup this weekend, all is not well in the Sharks camp.
There is the possibility that Bismarck du Plessis will miss the final due to a citing for stamping and in addition there is a couple of injuries to key players, which does not make things any easier.
Uncapped loose forward Arno Botha has been called into the Springbok starting team in the place of the injured Willem Alberts for Saturday’s Castle Lager Incoming Series opener against Italy at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban.
The Sharks are again being hampered by numerous injury setbacks before the Super Rugby season officially kicks off, no less than seven stars out for anything between 4 weeks and 8 weeks.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOOSE FORWARDS at the Sharks 2013 Super Rugby group.
Loose Forward is a set of 3 positions where the Sharks have abundance of, but much will depend on the coaching staff’s game plans and which combinations to use accordingly and as we have seen with John Plumtree, you could very well see someone like Willem Alberts playing a game or two at lock.
But before I continue, let me get this out of the way first! The biggest problem at the Sharks at Loose Forward is the lack of a FETCHER and as many great Loose Forwards that they have, not having a fetcher is that one huge weakness. All one has to do is look back at the Currie Cup Final of 2012 and see how it hurt them as a team, specially with Bismarck du Plessis being out injured, because it is common knowledge that Bismarck du Plessis fulfills that role for the Sharks.
It was a try. The referee awarded the try and the referee is ‘the sole judge of fact and Law during a match’. But was his judgement right.
He did take advice from the TMO whose scripted advice was: ‘You may award the try.’
But should it have been awarded? Was the judgement right? Was the Law correctly applied? It is an interesting situation.
The convincing win of the Springboks on Saturday was followed by news on the injury front.
Most notably Francois Steyn, who rolled his left ankle last Monday morning, will have to undergo an operation to clean the ankle up and will be sidelined for 3 months recovering from the surgery.
The Sharks’ chances of winning their crunch Super Rugby derby against the Bulls have suffered a mortal blow with the confirmation that star backline player Patrick Lambie is unlikely to line up for the match, whilst Willem Alberts is doubtful for the clash, whereas Frans Steyn is bound to slot straight into the starting lineup at centre.
Willem Alberts remains a doubtful starter for Saturday’s final test against England but the Springbok training session at Grey’s High on Monday brought some much needed tidings of joy for coach Heyneke Meyer.
Lock Juandre Kruger was assumed to be in doubt for the Nelson Mandela Stadium game here in Port Elizabeth after being carried off the field during the second test in Johannesburg with what was assumed to be a serious neck injury.
There may be an upside in that the depth of his squad will now be tested in a dead-rubber test, but Heyneke Meyer’s plans to use the final match against England at Nelson Mandela Stadium as a build-up or dress-rehearsal for The Rugby Championship look set to be disrupted.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer reserved special praise for his giant forward pack after their 22-17 first Test victory over England on Saturday.
The Sharks have been given a boost with the news that flank Willem Alberts has been cleared to play after having extensive rehabilitation during the off-season.
The 4th and Article in the set discussing the Sharks Super Rugby players for 2012.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOOSEFORWARDS in the Sharks 2012 Super Rugby group, and what their worth will be in Super Rugby terms.
The Sharks might be without two of their most bruising forwards, back row stars Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel, when their Super Rugby season gets underway next month.
Springbok and Sharks backrow forward Willem Alberts has undergone shoulder surgery while rugby takes a break in South Africa but he should be ready for the Super Rugby season.
South Africa’s momentum must be stopped at Eden Park tonight. If it is not, then the Springboks’ confidence will swell to frightening proportions in the months to come.
By TOBY ROBSON in Auckland – The Dominion Post