Midfield roles for Butch and Ludik?

Mon, 24 Jun 2013 18:33
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Andrew James and Louis Ludik could find themselves shoring up the Sharks midfield against the Blues at Kings Park on Saturday.

Andrew James and Louis Ludik could find themselves shoring up the Sharks midfield against the Blues at Kings Park on Saturday.

Having lost four of their centres - Meyer Bosman, Tim Whitehead, Francois Steyn and Paul Jordaan - to injury, the Sharks paired regular fullback Ludik with debutant Heimar Williams in midfield and had James at No.10 in last Friday’s match against the Golden Lions.

Although the Sharks succumbed 29-33 at Ellis Park, Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford was pleased with the two stalwarts’ performances and hinted that Ludik may retain the No.13 jersey with James possibly moving to inside centre to make way for the returning Pat Lambie.

“It was most important for us that Louis played well at centre,” Bashford said.

“We wanted him to get some game time because he’s been out injured and Riaan Viljoen has been going well at fullback, so it was an opportunity to get Louis on the field in a different position where we have suffered a number of injuries.

“He was able to get a feeling of what’s to come playing in the midfield and we’re really happy with the way he came through, I don’t think he put a foot wrong. Defensively he was sound and on attack he was willing and took them on all the time.

“We’re also happy with the way Butch came through, it was nice to see him on the field - so there were a lot of positives to come out of that game, although we are disappointed at losing there in the end.

“The midfielders we have available are all quality players who can do a job for us and we take a huge amount of confidence out of that, we just don’t seem to be able to enjoy any form of continuity in selection, it’s a different team each week.

“That’s the hard bit, but it’s what we have to deal with it and there is nothing we can do about it but make sure we get it right.”

The Sharks are also bolstered for Saturday’s match by the return of their Springbok loose forwards Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski, as well as the all-Springbok front row of Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis.

“Bismarck has been lacking game time, so it was nice to see him featuring in a high intensity match with the Springboks after having played a few club matches,” said Bashford.

“Getting game time in a Test match was exactly what he needed and the confidence he has gained out of testing himself on a big occasion like an international has been good for him.”

With the unavailability of Franco van der Merwe, Anton Bresler and Pieter-Steph du Toit for the Golden Lions match on the weekend, Edwin Hewitt was drafted in from Griquas and performed admirably, looking to extend his time with the Sharks.

“We were very happy with the way Edwin played against the Lions,” said Bashford.

“The second row is another position we’ve been hard-hit with injuries and then Jandre Marais picked up an injury against the Lions.

“It was really fortunate that we were able to take him up for the game because he will give us another option in selection in a position we need.”

Bashford said the match against the Golden Lions offered them an opportunity to get valuable game time before the resumption of the Super Rugby season and allowed them to evaluate the younger players in the squad.  

“Going into the game we were admittedly worried about the team, but the guys did really well in that first half,” explained Bashford.

“It was only really when they got on top of us in the set-piece that we couldn’t really cope with the intensity of their drive and their scrum, so we learned a lot about a few individuals in that game.

“Wiehahn Herbst was injured and when he went off we started to battle and they drove us at will in the second half. But there was some pretty good attack in the first half and being up on the scoreboard early was good for us, it gave us confidence.”

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