The Sharks will be without three first-choice forwards for the opening Super Rugby match against the Bulls.
The Bulls have suffered significant forward losses over the past season. Victor Matfield has retired, while other Springboks such as Gürthro Steenkamp, Gary Botha and Bakkies Botha are playing overseas.
Add Dewald Potgieter to that list after the flanker was forced to undergo surgery this past weekend, and it’s safe to say the Bulls will be short on experience and class when they tackle one of the traditionally harder South African sides this Friday.
What will help the Bulls’ cause is the Sharks’ own injury concerns. Beast Mtawarira has already been ruled out for half the season with a broken leg, and young prop Julian Redelinghuys injured an ankle in last Friday’s match against the Kings.
Flanker Willem Alberts will be sidelined for at least three more weeks while another big ball-carrier in Jean Deysel will only be back for the Sharks’ overseas tour at the end of March. John Plumtree is fortunate to have other established back-row options available, as well as the impressive young Marcell Coetzee, but would have preferred to have his heavy hitters back for the typically physical Loftus Versfeld clash.