Durban - The Sharks limped back into Durban after their defeat to the Pumas wounded not only psychologically by their Nelspruit ordeal, but also physically.
According to the supersport.com website, star young flank Francois Kleinhans went off early at Mbombela Stadium with a broken wrist, and has been ruled out for the rest of the season. That is a big blow for the Sharks as they have lost Jean Deysel and Keegan Daniel to Japanese clubs, while Ryan Kankowski is of course also back in Japan.
Kleinhans, a former South Africa Under-20 player and old boy of Glenwood, was expected to use the Currie Cup to grow into provincial rugby in possible readiness for a role in Super Rugby next year. Now that he is out for the rest of the domestic competition, the Sharks are going to have to dig deep into their already thin loose-forward resources in their quest to replace him.
They also returned from the 32-22 defeat in Nelspruit with two shorter term injury problems. Lock JC Astle is out for three weeks with a hamstring injury, and fellow second row forwards, Etienne Oosthuizen, will miss the clash with Griquas on Saturday after going over on his ankle.
Stephan Lewies is back playing again after returning from injury and was good as a replacement against the Pumas, but lock has become a problem area for the Sharks. Oosthuizen played flank earlier in the year but his injury this week removes him as an option to replace Kleinhans in the loose-forwards.
It is not all bad news though for the Sharks ahead of the Griquas game. The Sharks coaches have confirmed that Thomas du Toit, the powerful young loosehead who made waves at the end of the Super Rugby season, is being reintroduced this week after he was given some time off to recover from a heavy recent work-load.
If Du Toit returns refreshed and reinvigorated it will be a boost for a Sharks team that struggled in the scrums against the Pumas and is in desperate need of some aggression and grunt up front.