Sharks' game against Cheetahs in question due to Covid
DURBAN – The Sharks are facing an anxious wait to hear if their Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs on Sunday will go ahead following a troubled week of Covid testing and retesting.
The Sharks’ routine testing earlier this week returned a handful of positive results and that meant they had to have a second round of testing the next day to see if their were further positives — the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) needs to see if the outbreak has been contained or if it is on the increase, and this effects their decision on whether to allow the game in question to go ahead.
So the Sharks had their second tests on Wednesday morning and were expecting their second bunch of results sometime last night…
Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee said it is an unnerving time for his team because they need to play the Cheetahs to have an opportunity to recover ground lost on the log when they went down to the Lions (without so much as picking up a losing bonus point) last week.
“We are desperate to play this game, and we will do our best to make it happen,” Coetzee said. “We will find enough players to put a team on the field, but there are protocols laid down by the NICD and obviously we have to strictly adhere to them.
“We had some positive results and when then happens the NICD requires further investigation,” Coetzee explained. “The whole competition can’t be jeopardised. If there is a cluster of positive cases, it has to be contained.”
After the Sharks beat the Bulls two weeks ago, they had three players the next week unavailable to play the Lions because of Covid isolation while the Bulls could not play their game at all against Griquas.
“Last week we have a few positives ... we separated the guys, had further tests and it was okay for the game against the Lions to go ahead,” Coetzee said.
The Bulls have subsequently managed to have their home match against the Lions on Saturday moved to January 6, and also their match against the Pumas moved from January 8 to January 10.
If the opposition agrees to the change in dates, this is well within the rules of the competition, and on Thursday the Sharks and Cheetahs might well be discussing something similar.
The problem with moving games is that you can end up playing two games within the space of a week — as will be the case for the Bulls — so playing a game on time is first prize.
The Sharks are currently third on the log, one point behind the resurgent Lions, but they have a game in hand, as do fourth-placed Western Province (two points behind the Sharks).
This means that with three rounds to go before the semi-finals there is a big fight on for second place on the log behind the Bulls (and the second home semi-final spot), hence the Sharks’ eagerness to play the Cheetahs.
The Sharks’ last two games are against Griquas (Durban) and WP (away).