No new Covid-19 cases, but Sharks’ cupboard pretty bare
DURBAN - It is a case of “the show must go on” for the Sharks this week as they patch together a Covid-19 affected side to play the Pumas at Jonsson Kings Park on Friday night in the very first match of the 2020 Currie Cup.
The Sharks have ten players out either with Covid or isolating because of contact with infected players, but they will not call off their game this week, says determined CEO Eduard Coetzee.
Last week, the Sharks were due to host the Stormers in the final round of Super Rugby Unlocked but had to pull out of the fixture because of an outbreak in their ranks. The match was thus “drawn” and each side was awarded two log points.
The called off game meant the Sharks and the Stormers lost the opportunity to win the game and, as a reward, take forward a healthier log point tally into the Currie Cup.
Instead, the Sharks and Stormers finished SR Unlocked tied on 19 points, four behind the champion Bulls, who now start the Currie Cup with a handy buffer.
Coetzee said that the Sharks have to get back on the park, even if they are missing a number of players.
“We were able to get the squad tested on Sunday and while we have no new cases, we are still without the ten players from last week,” Coetzee said.
“You will see when the team is announced that we are heavily hit at tighthead prop and at loose forward, but we have to make a plan and carry on. We must play. We can’t afford to lose more points on the log,” he added.
A home game against the Pumas is one the Sharks would expect to win — with respect to the visitors — so to cancel the game and take just two points out of it as opposed to four or five would be a setback.
There is a real sense of excitement at Jonsson Kings Park as the Cell C Sharks players now shift their focus to the Carling Currie Cup which kicks off against the Phakisa Pumas in Durban on Friday evening.— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) November 23, 2020
Full article: https://t.co/wz6iZYIACF #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/jxmEOGWyio
A silver lining to the cloud at the Sharks is the expected availability of Thomas du Toit — the hefty Springbok has been missing for a month because of a calf injury but Coetzee says he has recovered.
Du Toit has been playing tighthead this year, so his availability is crucial to this game going ahead.
“We have no reason not to play,” Coetzee said. “Our side will be re-jigged and that means opportunities for the guys who have been on the fringes, but we will be able to play.”
Coetzee said that his players have gone into a level four lockdown of sorts in that apart from attending training (with social distancing), they isolate at home.
“Sometimes you can take all possible precautions but nothing is foolproof,” Coetzee said. “There are nearly 60-million people worldwide who have had Covid.”