Sharks lose McLeod for Currie Cup season

The Sharks have been dealt another blow in their quest to defend the Currie Cup title after scrumhalf Charl McLeod was ruled out of the competition with a fractured hip.

The Springbok number nine sustained the injury during the weekend loss to Western Province in Durban, although he did play through the match at Kings Park.

It is a latest in a series of problems for John Plumtree’s men, who are already without Ryan Kankowski because of a finger injury, while hooker Craig Burden (shoulder) is also another senior player missing along with most of their regular starting XV, who are away on World Cup duty.

“It’s bad news to lose Charl, he has those special abilities, especially with his leadership and his experience,” the coach said on Tuesday.

“So it’s a big blow for us.”

However, Plumtree ruled out the possibility of shifting versatile Frenchman Frederic Michalak to scrumhalf, insisting he had full confidence in back-up pair Conrad Hoffmann and Ross Cronje.

“I’m not unhappy with our other two nines, Ross didn’t have a great day the last time he ran out and Conrad has had a lot of opportunity there this year and injured again,” Plumtree said.

“We’ll have to show faith in them and probably keep them going for the rest of the campaign.”

The Sharks face the Platinum Leopards this week in their penultimate match of the regular season.

The coastal team currently lie in second place on the log behind the Lions, who they play at Kings Park next week. Bonus point victories in both matches will assure them of a home semi-final.

Plumtree, however, is not getting too far ahead of himself and wants the team to focus on this week first.

“We’ll have to take it game-by-game, especially with this team,” he said.

“It’s been frustrating, we’ve had injuries, issues with our form, so it’s been tough. But we’re still in it and we’ll fight till we die, that’s the attitude.”

The coach said the players were looking forward to Saturday’s match and knew what would be expected of them.

“If we can go up there, have a really good game and turn in a positive performance then we could possibly secure a semi-final,” he said.

Reflecting on their 15-10 loss to Province, he felt his side were not accurate enough.

“We had our opportunities to score more points but didn’t take them, there were dropped passes or a turnover at a crucial times,” said Plumtree.

“Obviously our line-out let us down a fair bit. There were about five attacking line-outs that we missed out on. That was a concern for us and that was probably the big difference between the two teams.”

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