Sharks boardroom issues not a concern for players

Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis has insisted that the Union’s issues in the boardman will have no impact on the players performances on the field as they resume the Super Rugby season.

A lot has happened since the 10th-placed Durban franchise played their last game of the competition against the Bulls a month ago.

Former Springbok captain and close friend of Du Plessis, John Smit, was officially unveiled as the new CEO of the union.

Smit undertook his first big assignment as the new boss when he released current coach John Plumtree and replaced him with Brendan Venter in a director of rugby role.

“We are not involved in what’s happening at the boardroom, we just want to focus on rugby, and play winning rugby,” Du Plessis said on Tuesday.

Smit had been criticised for the move in some quarters, forcing the Sharks board to subsequently issue a statement outlining their full support for the former Bok captain.

Venter, who is a former national team player, will take over the hotseat when the Currie Cup begins in August.

“The Sharks have been under-performing this year and we want to rectify that,” Du Plessis said.

The front-rower has not played any part in the Sharks’ decline this season, having missed the past 10 months after picking up a serious knee ligament injury against Argentina in Cape Town last year.

He has only just returned to action after undergoing surgery, playing 33 minutes off the bench for the Springboks against Scotland and Samoa during the Test matches over the past two weekends.

“It’s been a long 10 months, a lonely road during those months where I learned a lot about myself,” he explained.

“To be able to wear the black and white jersey of the Sharks hopefully this weekend is going to be a massive privilege for me.

“I wouldn’t say I am exactly where I want to be, but I am close and getting to where I want to be, and where I was.

“That’s a major focus for me, to just regain a spot in the Sharks 22 and push for the number two jersey. The future will look after itself from there.”

The Sharks only have a slim chance of making the Super Rugby play-offs after an injury-ravaged campaign where they have lost seven times.

They must win all three remaining games, starting with the Blues on Saturday, then a trip to Pretoria next week and a final match-up against the Kings to have any chance of ending in the top six.

“I don’t think people are giving us a chance of making the play-offs, but we’re still in contention and no-one gave us a chance last year and we reached the final, so that gives us a lot of motivation for this weekend’s game against the Blues,” added Du Plessis.

Cobus Reinach, Jacques Botes and Ryan Kankowski have been cleared to play and are available for selection after been side-lined due to injury, while Butch James (muscle strain) and Heimar Williams (AC joint sprain) would both have to pass a fitness test later in the week.

The team will be without Wiehahn Herbst (groin),Tim Whitehead (arm fracture, bone not fully united), Craig Burden (neck), Frans Steyn (knee surgery), Meyer Bosman (knee surgery), Francois Kleinhans (ankle surgery), Jandre Marais (ankle sprain), JP Pietersen (groin surgery), who are all still not ready for selection.

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