Double injury blow for Sharks
Durban - The unfortunate consequence of playing rugby is the obvious risk of sustaining injuries, and the Sharks are no different with news that they have lost two players following their warm-up match on Friday night.
On the flip side of a good 71-8 win against the Leopards at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg was the news that eighthman Keegan Daniel and centre Tim Whitehead will miss the first weeks of Super Rugby.
According to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick
, captain Keegan Daniel sustained a grade two injury to his MCL (Medial Cruciate Ligament in the knee) and is expected to be out for six weeks, while centre Tim Whitehead has a broken arm and should spend six to eight weeks on the side lines.
Hooker Bismarck du Plessis’s rehabilitation for an ACL injury is on track and his return to play is expected by the time the Sharks go on tour in week nine of Super Rugby.
“We go into this week’s game praying that there are no more injuries at this stage,” admitted Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards after losing two of their players.
The return to Durban of Ryan Kankowski from Japan as well as the great form of Lubabalo ‘Tera’ Mtembu in Friday night’s game where he scored a brace of tries in the Sharks' mauling of the Leopards does mean that they are well-covered fortunately.
They also have sufficient depth amongst the backs as to render the losses less than catastrophic, although Daniel and Whitehead are integral to the team’s successes and their rehab will be watched with keen interest.
Despite the player injuries, Reece-Edwards felt that they could have done with greater physicality from the game. Last year, the Sharks lost Beast Mtawarira in a training incident, which just goes to show that there is a lot of luck involved (or bad luck, as the case may be) when it comes to injuries.
“Unfortunately, the hit-out wasn’t as physical as we had hoped for,” he admitted.
“I don’t think we played a Leopards top team, I think they were experimenting quite a bit as well.”
But from a Sharks perspective, he was pleased with their effort and showing as they look ahead to their final game, against the Pumas at KaNyamazane Stadium on Friday evening.
“But from the point of view of the players’ excitement, some good ball handling and some good play, I’m really happy with that, we’d be happy with that against any side. But we needed it to be a little bit harder and I think we’re hoping to get that this weekend against the Pumas.”
The Sharks start their Super Rugby campaign away to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 23.