Sharks call on some fresh recruits for final
The travel-weary Sharks will have some fresh legs for their Super Rugby final against the Chiefs on Saturday with classy backs Pat Lambie and Paul Jordaan included in their squad.
The Sharks arrive in Sydney today and will travel to Hamilton on Thursday.
Having already overcome Queensland and the Stormers in an arduous playoffs schedule that has forced them backwards and forwards from South Africa, coach John Plumtree has bolstered his squad to 24 with the inclusion of Lambie and Jordaan.
Springbok goalkicking utility Lambie hasn't been involved in either of the last two heroic performances as he battled an ankle injury.
Jordaan, the Junior Boks centre, was forced off in the quarterfinal win over the Reds in Brisbane with a hamstring injury and missed Sunday's semifinal win over the Stormers in Cape Town.
Plumtree had no hesitation in putting both on to the plane bound for the final where both the Sharks and the Chiefs are seeking their first Super Rugby title.
Plumtree now has 13 forwards and 11 backs at his disposal.
He was happy to report no fresh injuries from the gutsy win over the Stormers, just some tired bodies as they contemplated the final leg of travel that will mean around 35,000km in the last two weeks by the time they reach Hamilton.
He now has to weigh up the pros and cons of changing his winning formula, but Lambie and Jordaan will both be compelling cases for inclusion into the 22 or starting XV, given their abilities and comparative freshness.
“There were a lot of really tired bodies, but this group has gathered belief in the last seven or eight weeks and we're just following through right now, which is great,” Plumtree said.
The New Zealand-born coach rated the win over the Stormers as one of the best since he joined the Sharks in 2006 from the Wellington Lions.
"I put it right up there with the best displays I've seen. They've got that confidence and it grows a bit with every week,” Plumtree said.
"A few weeks ago they would not have won [that] match and it shows how much they've grown in self-belief.”
The challenge is to take it one game further and erase the Sharks' runner-up finishes in 1996, 2001 and 2007.
Sharks touring squad:
Backs: Louis Ludik, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Tim Whitehead, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, Patrick Lambie, Frederic Michalak, Charl McLeod, Riaan Viljoen. Forwards: Ryan Kankowski, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel (c), Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Anton Bresler, Steven Sykes, Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Wiehahn Herbst, Bismarck du Plessis, Craig Burden.