The Sharks are desperate to have lock Ruben van Heerden back from Covid-19 isolation for their visit to the Cheetahs on Sunday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix
The Sharks are desperate to have lock Ruben van Heerden back from Covid-19 isolation for their visit to the Cheetahs on Sunday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

The Pressure is mounting on Covid-hit Sharks

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Dec 22, 2020

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DURBAN - What is good for the goose is good for the gander. That is what the Sharks will be feeling as they wait anxiously to hear if their Covid-19 cluster of last week is over because if it isn’t, they will look to the precedent of SA Rugby re-arranging matches affecting the Covid-affected Bulls.

The Sharks are due to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday having lost players to isolation last week before their defeat to the Lions in Joburg, while the Bulls had their game against Griquas called off.

But now SA Rugby has announced that the kick-off dates of two Currie Cup matches involving the log-leading Bulls have been moved to combat the threat of further Covid infection.

The Bulls’ home match against the Lions – scheduled for Saturday — has been postponed to January 6 because of infection in the Bulls’ squad.

And their subsequent match, against the Pumas – scheduled for two days later on January 8 – has been pushed back two days to January 10 at Mbombela Stadium.

The Sharks played the Lions without four of their first-choice tight five and matters could get worse today when they receive the results of their latest bout of testing. With the Sharks and Lions having only concluded their game late on Saturday night, testing could only take place last night — as per protocols, testing can only begin 48 hours after the end of a match.

Because they were waiting on results, the Sharks did not train yesterday but will do so today, tomorrow and on Christmas Day.

While the players will no doubt find it a touch inconvenient to be putting on the boots on the 25th, it is much better than how things were originally planned for them — they were due to fly to Bloemfontein on Christmas Day to play the Cheetahs on Boxing Day, but their CEO, Ed Coetzee, managed to have the game moved to the 27th.

Training on Christmas Day for an hour or two is way better than travelling to another city on Christmas Day.

And the Sharks players will know that they cannot baulk at any proposed training sessions after they underperformed against the Lions, Covid-missing players notwithstanding.

The forwards did not fire a shot and their Rolls-Royces at the back remained parked in the garage.

The Sharks have three matches remaining before the semi-finals — the Cheetahs (away), Griquas (home) and Western Province (away) — so the pressure is mounting on them to have things go their way on and off the field.

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