The Sharks pulled off an incredible win over the Crusaders on Friday, but it has come at a cost as two further injuries will hurt the Sharks as they prepare to travel South this weekend.
Jacques Botes went off early in the match clutching his arm and rumour is that he has broken it, while Odwa Ndungane also left the field, a hamstring strain preventing him from finishing the match.
These injuries might not seem like anything new, as players go down after every match, but the problem at the Sharks currently is that none of the players are returning.
The Sharks started the year with injuries to Willem Alberts, Dale Chadwick, Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis, Butch James and Tim Whitehead, and to date, only Daniel has returned. Add to that, Louis Ludik confirmed that he will undergo surgery which rules him out of action for at least three months.
Further injuries in the year to Jean Deysel and Lwazi Mvovo, and now Botes and Ndungane, the loose forward and outside back stock has taken a knock.
John Plumtree gave feedback on the expected return of some players at a press conference last week, but players react differently to treatment and in length of time to regain match fitness. The first of the injured bunch to return could well be Jean Deysel, with his return likely for the week building to the Cheetahs clash in two weeks. Willem Alberts is also set to return around the same time, but seeing as he has not played rugby at all this season, that return could well be limited to Vodacom Cup action.
Bismarck is hoping to be ready to join the tour party, departing in two weeks’ time, after the Cheetahs match in Durban. Should he not make the start of the tour, his spot will be left vacant so that he can join the team in Australia for the latter half of the tour. With that, Tim Whitehead is also expected to fly over and join the team mid-tour. Another set to tour is Butch James, but with Meyer Bosman playing some of his best rugby in a Sharks jersey, it is difficult to see him playing more than an impact role off the bench.
Lwazi Mvovo and Dale Chadwick are only set to return after the tour, Mvovo with an injured hand, while Chadwick’s return is unknown as he has had a further setback. Whitehead was set to return earlier, but his injury failed to heal properly and further action had to be taken, which rules him out for the next four weeks at least.
The full extent of the latest injuries will only be known tomorrow, when the Sharks have their weekly press conference, but if any of Botes or Ndungane is as serious as expected, we are bound to see some youngsters take to the Newlands pitch.
By Richard Ferguson