Storming Cell C Sharks loose forward Jean Deysel will be unavailable for four-to-six weeks after injuring his ankle, but the fabulous news for the KwaZulu-Natal team is that Springbok regular Willem Alberts is back to full fitness and ready for action again.
Deysel, who has earned four Springbok caps himself, had what the Sharks termed a “small procedure” on his ankle after the unfortunate defeat to the Bulls and is currently on crutches.
But the return of Alberts for this weekend’s crunch encounter with the Stormers at Newlands, four weeks into the competition, can barely have come at a better time for a Sharks team that has just one victory under their belts.
Alberts has been training at full intensity for two-and-a-half weeks now and is likely to be unleashed against the South African Conference leaders on Saturday.
Renaldo Bothma has been outstanding for the Sharks thus far, so Deysel’s absence will hardly be felt with either Alberts or the former Pumas hard man taking the empty place on the bench.
Currie Cup captain Tera Mtembu is also in contention and, as he pointed out on Tuesday, there is plenty of depth at loose forward for the Sharks.
“Every guy who has stood in has done well and it’s a good headache for the coach. It’s awesome to have Willem back and he’s raring to go, but Renaldo has done very well at number seven as well,” Mtembu said.
While a lot of the blame for the Sharks’ defeat to the Bulls can be laid at the door of poor officiating, Mtembu said the team has to shoulder the responsibility for their own shortcomings.
“Obviously it was a disappointing result and we’ve been working hard on certain things for the last two days to rectify them. The main thing is our consistency. We didn’t start well against the Cheetahs, we were awesome against the Lions and then we let ourselves down last weekend. That can’t go on. The energy is there, we just need to be smarter in our decision-making,” Mtembu said.
The return of hugely experienced backs Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen to the Sharks fold will also help them to match an in-form Stormers backline.
Not all players going to Japan come back in tiptop condition, but Steyn and Pietersen are both looking in tremendous shape.
“They’ll definitely give us a lift, as old as they are, they both want to do well, they bring a lot of energy and they are going to inspire the guys around them,” Mtembu said.
The Sharks team to travel to Cape Town will be announced on Thursday.