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Sharks' Crusaders mission starts mammoth run

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sharksrugby.co.za and James Mortimer     05 Apr 2013     Getty Images

The Sharks have a tough period ahead of them in rugby terms, with Friday night’s huge clash against the Crusaders, the start of an eight week run of Super Rugby games, including a four match tour Down-Under.

Like the Crusaders who are missing three of their big name players, The Sharks too have their injury concerns (as do every other team for that matter), but have still managed to win four of their five games operating at less than 100% capacity.

That is testament to the quality of the depth in the side and which bodes well for the future, although the returning troops aren’t far off from bolstering The Sharks stocks.

Following the Rebels game where Sharks fullback Louis Ludik took a knock, he is still to pass a fitness test before the game and as a precaution, has been named together with S’bura Sithole on the bench, with one of them to make way dependant on the outcome of the medical. This has opened the door for Frans Steyn to have a run in the number 15 jersey.

“Louis has a bit of a problem with his shoulder but I’m hoping he’ll be a lot better before the match,” explains coach John Plumtree of the possibility that he will be able to feature.

“Frans at fullback brings a long kicking game, defensively he’s very sound, he’ll get more space for attacking, so it will be good to see how he goes. Riaan Viljoen is also a big fullback to it’s good to have those three guys there.”

There was no problem with the players still in ‘holiday mode’ after the bye as The Sharks coach confirms that everyone was alert and slipped back into training quite seamlessly.

“I’ve been pretty happy with the way they’ve come back, the training sessions have been good and we’re looking forward to the game. The bye week gives them a bit of a break from the intensity of the competition, mentally a big switch off, and now it’s a case of mentally switching right back on. Having the Crusaders first up after the bye, I’m sure that happens.”