Sharks prop Patric Cilliers has been ruled out of action for four to six weeks with torn knee ligaments.
The 21-year-old re-injured the knee which has endured two operations in the last 18 months. However, Sharks doctor Craig Roberts confirmed to the Daily News that none of the ligaments which had been surgically reconstructed were damaged.
The Sharks already have Jannie du Plessis at tighthead and may also opt to use John Smit at No 3, but John Plumtree will hope for Cilliers’ speedy recovery ahead of a demanding Super 14 schedule.
Albert van den Berg is also sidelined for four more weeks as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but the good news is Bismarck du Plessis (hamstring and knee injury) and Jacques Botes (groin) should be fit before the opening clash against the Stormers.
The Sharks will play two warm-up games against the Cheetahs and Bulls before their Super 14 campaign kicks off on 14 February.