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Strongest Sharks likely for Chiefs

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Springboks, Super Rugby on 18 Mar 2015 at 13:20
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

Today’s SARU clarification regarding the resting of Springbok players in a World Cup year did a fair bit to ease my mind ahead of this weekend’s key clash between the Sharks and the Chiefs.

The sticking point – one which could potentially have led to impasse and perhaps even a nasty spat between the Sharks and the national body – relates to the five-game maximum for key Springboks. While the list of affected players has not been released, we can say with certainty that both Pat Lambie and Marcell Coetzee would be subject to this ruling and having each played in every one of the five matches to date, would ideally be earmarked to rest this week.

As I wrote yesterday (erroneously assuming, as it turned out, that non-contracted Bok Cobus Reinach would be subject to the same restriction) the forced withdrawal of these key players ahead of a crucial match against the in-form Chiefs would be nothing short of a hammer blow to the Sharks, just in the process of resurrecting their campaign after a poor start. I think few would argue that a loss against the Chiefs this weekend would be a major setback and for the Sharks to be artificially constrained in selection for this match is hard to justify, even with the World Cup “bigger picture” firmly in sight.

SARU have clarified their stance, talking about their ideals versus the reality in which provincial coaches find themselves. I’m glad that the parties appear to be approaching this issue in a collaborative spirit, with acceptance that the day-to-day situations in which teams find themselves are not always conducive to complying with that ideal situation. SARU urges coaches to stick to that ideal “as closely as possible” – the Sharks will, I’m sure, argue that by picking Lambie and Coetzee this week (with a rest to come the week after) they are making an acceptable compromise in terms of what’s desired by the national body and what’s required by their other direct stakeholders (including passionate fans like you and me).

The Sharks team to face the Chiefs at the weekend will be named tomorrow and is expected to be largely the same as the one that started in Bloemfontein, apart from the absence of Pieter-Steph du Toit.


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