Gold needs a cure for his pain at the back
AFTER being rather fortunate to have some continuity in their selection, the Sharks face a backline crisis for their mustwin game against the Cheetahs at Kings Park tonight (7.10pm kickoff).
Long- term disruptions to Nos 9 and 10 have been somewhat overcome, but coach Gary Gold has had to do some serious head-scratching at centre and fullback in the run-up to a potential playoff.
However, Gold has grown accustomed to the absence of captain and flyhalf Pat Lambie this season. Lambie is still suffering from concussion.
“At the beginning of the week it was disappointing to find out that Patrick was not going to make it, but we always knew there was a chance that he may not be right,” he said. “But we have just got on with our work.”
Luckily for Gold, he is able to call upon his Andre Esterhuizen, who was a late withdrawal from last week’s match. But Esterhuizen’s midfield partner Paul Jordaan has not recovered from a knock suffered against the Lions at Ellis Park last Saturday.
JP Pietersen starts at No 13, while Pukke star Rhyno Smith takes over from Odwa Ndungane at fullback.
“This is the time that you really want the continuity, so it is a big loss to lose Paul Jordaan, and along with Pat, and Willie (le Roux),” Gold said. “But it an opportunity for someone else to step up to the plate.”
Asked about Ndungane’s omission, Gold expounded on his backline problems that those on the bench today offer more versatility. “We need to cover as many positions as we can,” he said.
“S’Bura (Sithole) can cover us at No 13 and at wing, Lwazi (Mvovo) can cover us at fullback and at wing. We only have three backs on the bench and one of those has to be a scrumhalf, that is why Odwa misses out.”
One of the Sharks’ exciting prospects, SA Under- 20 star Curwin Bosch, will cover flyhalf and fullback. Bosch comes off an impressive showing at the recent Junior Championship in England, where he was nominated as one of the players of the tournament.
“We believe Curwin is a prodigious talent, and I believe if you are good enough you are old enough,” Gold said. “There are still areas in his game that he needs to work, but we think he has come back from the Under-20 World Cup – where he was one of the players of the tournament – and we saw what he can do with ball in hand.
“So I think he deserves a shot.”
RHYNO SMITH: Offers more than Ndungane