Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Cape Town - The misery of being defeated 41-10 by the Lions in their opening Neo Africa Tri-Series fixture has been compounded for the Sharks by an injury that could force Alistair Hargreaves to be out of rugby for some time.GALLERY: Lions v Sharks Neo Africa Tri-Series
Hargreaves left the field during the match with a back injury that forced him to spend the night in hospital. Early on Wednesday the Sharks coaches reported that Hargreaves was still in hospital, and while they are still unclear over what the injury is – it was described by assistant coach Grant Bashford as “one of two scenarios” – they are gearing themselves for the worst.
“It does not look good, it is a big concern for us,” said coach John Plumtree, who said that Hargreaves’s condition was caused by either a disc or vertebrae injury.
The Sharks will know later on Wednesday how long Hargreaves will be out for, but the coaches are anticipating that it will probably be for a lengthy period. It will be a massive blow if those fears are confirmed, for Hargreaves was expected to play a vital role as a key member of the Sharks pack in the Super Rugby season. Johann Muller, the stalwart in the No 5 jersey over most of the past six or seven Super Rugby seasons, is now playing overseas.
To make matters worse, another lock, Ross Skeate, sustained a fractured finger against the Lions, which leaves the Sharks in a pickle as they search for a second row for their match against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday. With Steve Sykes not having made the trip to Cape Town because of injury, the injury blows to Skeate and Hargreaves leaves the Sharks short of frontline second row cover.
Gerhard Mostert played in Hargreaves’s place for most of the Sharks match and the former Lions player will be expected to front the second row challenge against the Stormers, who will include the fit again Andries Bekker in their lineup.