Sharks star Aphelele Fassi is back from injury. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency ( ANA )
Sharks star Aphelele Fassi is back from injury. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency ( ANA )

Aphelele Fassi back as Covid-19 hit Sharks-Cheetahs clash goes ahead

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Dec 24, 2020

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DURBAN - The good news for the Currie Cup is that the Cheetahs versus Sharks match on Sunday is going ahead as planned despite Covid -19 heavily affecting the Sharks’ preparations this week.

But the Sharks have gutsed it out and despite having to leave some significant players and coaching staff behind, they will front up in Bloemfontein for a crucial encounter for both sides.

The match had been called into question in some quarters of the media after the Sharks early this week suffered a cluster of positive results when they had their routine testing.

Subsequent follow-up testing over the course of the week meant the Sharks could not train until Thursday, but according to CEO Eduard Coetzee, they were always going to do everything in their power to make the game happen.

“It has been a very difficult week for us — it is far from ideal when you can’t train before a big match — but we want to play this game and make our supporters proud, especially after a poor performance against the Lions in our last match,” Coetzee said.

“We will train on Christmas Day and go up to Bloemfontein on Boxing Day. We will be leaving behind some of the coaching staff and some key players but we are making no excuses.

“We will make the best of the situation. Our guys are professional rugby players; they are a happy squad and the guys want to get back on the winning trail with the competition starting to head towards the semi-finals,” Coetzee added.

The Sharks are yet to finalise their team having only trained today and with some of the players needing to be reassessed in the morning as they are making comebacks from injuries.

The team will be announced around noon on Christmas Day, and the excellent news for the South African game is that rising star Aphelele Fassi is certain to be in the match 23.

The fullback has not played for three months because of a serious shoulder injury.

The Sharks are desperate to win the match so that they get on course for a home semi-final by eventually securing second spot on the log, while the Cheetahs need to win if they hope to keep on track for a top four finish.

The Sharks host Griquas next week and finish against Western Province at Newlands.

@IOLsport

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