Garth April will retain his place as the Sharks’ starting flyhalf for this Friday’s clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Veteran Joe Pietersen has worn the No 10 jersey at the start of the season in the absence of injured Pat Lambie, with April having been integrated off the bench as part of a plan to gradually expose the youngster to the rigours of Super Rugby.
However, last weekend he had the opportunity to start against the Highlanders, and certainly displayed enough encouraging signs to receive due praise from Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold this week.
‘We saw signs of Garth’s potential [in a pre-season game] in France, but it was important to just slowly but surely bring him into Super Rugby,’ Gold said. ‘His goal-kicking was outstanding against the Highlanders and I think that will give him confidence. Garth ran the show beautifully, took the ball to the line nicely and his passing game was excellent. He’s also a brave player and made his tackles.’
Friday's game against the Chiefs will be the Sharks' final match in New Zealand, and they will need to make a couple of changes to the team, with Cobus Reinach and Philip van der Walt having headed home with injuries. Michael Claassens is expected to start at scrumhalf, while Dan du Preez should return from a rest to take over from Van der Walt at No 8.
The Sharks’ loose-forward depth has also been bolstered by the return to form of Jean Deysel, who produced an impressive cameo off the bench against the Highlanders.
‘Jean had a difficult time on and off the field last year, so we didn’t want to rush him back,’ Gold said. ‘He’s got through some impressive work in training, and it was good for him to then be able to get a run off the bench last weekend. He made a big impact and looked like the Deysel of old.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images