Monty set to miss out

Springbok fullback Percy Montgomery will miss the Sharks Super 14 clash with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, owing to a thigh strain sustained in the Crusaders match.

But Sharks coach Dick Muir said “we were going to rest him anyway”.

“We have promised Jake White [Springbok coach] that we will manage our Test players. We may leave him out the next week as well. Monty has played consistently well this season but we do have options at fullback,” Muir told the Witness.

But the good news for the unbeaten Durban side is that fellow Bok Francois Steyn had made a quicker than anticipated recovery from an ankle injury and has become available for selection a weak earlier than initially forecasted.

Steyn, who was born and bred in the Free State will return to his hometown then for the visiting Sharks.

“Our medical team has done a fine job on Frans,” Muir told the Mercury.

“It should be a straight swop between him and Percy at fullback, and what a pleasure it is to have this kind of depth in the squad.”

Muir also has the option of playing JP Pietersen at fullback.

“Fullback is JP’s best and preferred position, and it would be nice to give him a run there now that this opportunity has presented itself, but then you also have to look at this game and go for horses for courses – I reckon they will retain Willem de Waal and we know how he can kick. Frans has a huge boot and with him at fullback we could return De Waal’s kicks with interest.”

After a disappointing showing under the high ball, Muir maintains that Pietersen has not lost confidence.

“I am not worried about that at all.

“There are a few technical issues that JP has to work on, and David Campese is doing just that with him. It is not a question of him having lost confidence under the high ball. He hasn’t.”

Another player who may be fit against the odds is centre Bradley Barritt, after X-rays showed he had not broken his hand, and massive swelling of the hand had decreased in the following days. Barritt has revealed the cause of his injury – teammate Butch James.

“It was Butch that was stamping on my hand in the game.

“I had my hand on the ball because I was presenting it but Butch could not see the rest of my body under the ruck and thought it was a Crusader hand trying to slow the ball down. Butch doesn’t hold back, I can tell you!”

But Muir is not likely to risk any player at this stage of the competition and the Sharks will only make a decision later on Barritt.

BJ Botha is also set to return to the line-up, whilst Bob Skinstad, after a run with the Wildebeest on Saturday, is training with the Sharks and is also likely to play a role against the Cheetahs.

 

365 Digital

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