Why Sharks are 'resting' Bok skipper
INTERVIEW: Sharks coach Sean Everitt’s powerful team is missing a few key players for their trip to Johannesburg and the resumption of United Rugby Championship hostilities.
The Sharks will resume their campaign against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, without Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi and Bok hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi.
Everitt revealed that the duo is not yet ready to resume playing, after a ‘heavy workload’ in 2021.
“They had an extended break in December,” Everitt told @rugby365com, when asked about the absence of two of the team’s most high-profile Boks.
“They are still in their pre-season phase.
“We feel they will be better off with another week of training under the belt,” the coach added.
Kolisi, 30, played in all 13 South Africa’s Tests in 2021, taking his tally to 63.
The last outing was the 26-27 loss to England at Twickenham on November 20.
Mbonambi, 31, featured in 12 Tests- only missing the 32-12 win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth on August 14.
The two are likely to be back in the fold when the Sharks host the Stormers next week.
There was some good news as well, as Bok loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe was finally released from the rehabilitation squad on Thursday, following surgery in May last year to reattach a tendon to his knee cap.
He suffered the injury in a Rainbow Cup match against the Bulls.
Having returned to training, he is likely to start playing in another fortnight.
* Meanwhile, loose forward Dylan Richardson returned from duty with Scotland in November struggling with a ‘lower leg stress fracture’ and is still sidelined.
Once fit he is likely to return to Scotland for Test duty.
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) January 13, 2022
At least the Sharks can rely on two-cap Bok flyer Aphelele Fassi to drive the team to victory on the Highveld.
He described their European tour as a “difficult” phase – a month-long trip that yielded just one win in four matches.
They started the trip with a heavy (17-42) loss to Munster, then went down (24-35) to Glasgow Warriors, before beating Ospreys 27-13. They completed the trip with a heartbreaking 17-23 loss to Cardiff.
After the visit of European teams were cancelled by COVID, they beat the Bulls 30-16 in a rearranged match in December.
Fassi spoke of “implementing the learnings” in the next stage of their campaign – which will see them travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, then hosting the Stormers, before travelling to Cape Town for the return derby against the Stormers and then meeting the Bulls in Pretoria.
He added that there is a positive vibe in the camp and the players are all excited to get stuck into the tournament.
“We know the Lions are full of intensity,” Fassi told a media scrum in the build-up to this weekend’s encounter.
” However, with that comes mistakes and one thing we’ve looked after is being able to capitalise on opportunities that we receive, so to convert four from five opportunities would be great.
“And then playing in the right areas of the field is something we want to achieve.
“We’re expecting a very fast game,” he added.
“They’re a team that loves to play with a lot of intensity and keep the ball in play and we’re looking forward to the game.
“For some of us, it’s our first taste of URC rugby, for some it’s their first game in a long time and we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”