Thomas the Tank derailed for Sharks
DURBAN - The Sharks will be without Thomas “The Tank” du Toit for their trip to Ellis Park on Saturday, and probably for most of the remainder of the Currie Cup following the confirmation that he fractured a rib against the Bulls last week.
The Sharks missed Du Toit a great deal when he was sidelined with a calf injury for a month, not long after rugby resumed. His enormous presence at tighthead seems to settle their scrum and it is not a co-incidence that the Sharks’ set-piece struggled in his absence.
Du Toit made his comeback from the calf injury in their win over the Pumas so to lose him in their next match, the 32-29 victory over the Bulls last week, is unfortunate.
The encouraging news is that former Western Province man Michael Kumberai impressed in making his Currie Cup debut for the Sharks when he came on for Du Toit against the Bulls. Kumberai, born in Pretoria of Zimbabwean parents, has largely been missing in action since he came to the Sharks from Cape Town because of injury and Covid-19 isolation, but he made a big impact against the Bulls, especially with his high work-rate and strong scrumming.
The Sharks also have the option of John-Hubert Meyer, another who was lost to Covid isolation for three weeks.
The show goes on for the Sharks and they have a very difficult proposition this week in the form of the resurgent Lions. Captain Lukhanyo Am is confident, though, that his own team is on the rise.
“We are slowly getting there, we’re gradually getting to where we want to be.” said Am. “We are starting to do the small things right. We did a lot of homework before the Bulls match and it was definitely an important result for us, especially coming off a bye.”
A major focus for the Sharks before playing the Bulls was addressing the team’s inconsistency over the course of the match. Am said that although his team finished strongly, they didn’t quite get that right.
“It is still a work-on for us to deliver a complete 80-minute performance — against the Bulls we had a bad dip at the start of the second half before rallying to pull it off,” the captain said.
On Saturday it won’t be any easier for the Sharks against a Lions team on a strong upward trajectory following wins over Western Province and the Cheetahs.
Am said he has never experienced anything but hard-fought battles at Ellis Park.
“The Sharks and the Lions at Ellis Park always produces incredibly tough encounters,” Am said. “I have never had it easy there and this will be another exciting game. They are a good side that likes to keep possession and move the ball.
“They are a team on the rise after some early disappointments. They will be a tough nut to crack.”