Sharks Covid-19 free in big boost for the Currie Cup final
DURBAN - It is full steam ahead for Saturday’s Currie Cup final between the Bulls and the Sharks in Pretoria after every member of the Durban squad on Tuesday tested negative for Covid-19.
The Sharks were tested at 7 am on Tuesday morning and after a nerve-wracking 12-hour wait for the results, a relieved CEO Ed Coetzee this (Wednesday) morning said they that they had received the all-clear, to a man.
The Sharks have been the most heavily affected team in the country by Covid and have had several matches called off because of lack of manpower in vital areas (such as the front row) after players and management were forced into isolation.
Three weeks ago, before the Sharks were due to play Western Province at Newlands, 22 Sharks tested positive, causing the cancellation of the game.
In what has proved to be a very clever move, SA Rugby postponed the semi-final by a week, giving the four teams a fortnight to get themselves into the best positive health, and that action seems to have worked.
The Sharks were Covid-free going into last week’s semi-final against WP, and they have remained so ahead of Saturday’s final.
SA Rugby will breathe a sigh of relief … If the Sharks had been forced to field a weakened team, it would have compromised the integrity of the final; and to have had to postpone the final would have been a disaster.
It is understood that the Bulls are also unaffected by Covid.
In further good news for the Sharks — and for the final as a spectacle — key Sharks forward Thomas du Toit is over a heavy knock he took in the semi-final and will play. The Sharks are heavily reliant on Du Toit at tighthead prop and his absence would have been a serious blow to their chances of beating the Bulls.
Almost every time Du Toit has not played, the Sharks have lost or struggled, such is their fragile depth at tighthead prop, while when he has played their suspect set scrum has held firm. The presence of the 136kg World Cup-winning prop is undoubtedly a boost for his teammates.
Scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, who was flattened by a ferocious tackle by Angelo Davids in the semi, is also in good health. Coach Sean Everitt said Nohamba had not been hurt by the tackle and the reason he was taken off a little later was that it was his first game back from Covid, and it had always been pre-planned to bring on fresh legs in the form of Jaden Hendrikse.
The Sharks will train for the first time today (Wednesday) now that they know their Covid status.
Everitt is expected to name an unchanged squad from the semi for the final.