All things considered, the rugby training session held at the King's Park infirmary on Tuesday night was a mightily impressive one.

Strutting among the walking wounded, coach Putt cracked the whip, and those of fit limb responded with alacrity.

On the sideline the lengthy row of indisposed players applauded.

It is indeed an injury crisis of monumental proportions ahead of Friday's match against the Highlanders and Tuesday night there were additions to the long and well-publicised list.

Luke Watson, the bright young star who made such an astonishing contribution against the Hurricanes, is the latest concern.

He sat out the training because of a hamstring injury and will undergo a fitness test on Thursday.

Next to him in the stands was newcomer Johan Muller, the Wildebeest lock who substituted for sick Philip Smit against the Hurricanes.

Muller is the umpteenth Natal player this season to be struck down by a groin strain. He will also undergo a fitness test on Thursday.

Midway through the practice, they were joined by a bloody Brad Macleod-Henderson. The flank/No 8 had his nose smashed in a rucking drill.

There could be good news, though, among all this carnage. On Wednesday a neurosurgeon will conduct a scan on Brent Russell's head to determine the seriousness of the injury he sustained against the Hurricanes.

If cleared, he may be available for selection sooner than expected, but it is unlikely that he will be in the frame this week.

Border flyhalf Gareth Wright flew in from East London shortly before training on Tuesday and slotted straight in at flyhalf.

In a minor surprise, Rudi Keil ran alongside Wright at inside centre, suggesting that Trevor Halstead is in for the chop. Keil has not yet started a game this season, despite being one of last season's stand-out Currie Cup players.

Putt may feel the time is right to give him an opportunity. Halstead has started each game and has not yet regained the form that made him the country's Currie Cup Player of the Year in 2001.

Halstead missed an entire season (2002) after a horrific knee injury and it is understandable that he needs time to regain his old form.

On a positive note, Putt may have discovered some impressive second row talent in Wildebeest lock Greg Rawlinson, who was was called up to the training on Tuesday night.


Rawlinson is a local lad, but he has been playing club rugby in New Zealand in recent times. He is contracted to North Harbour and they have given him leave to play in Natal until their national provincial championships begin after the Super 12.

Rawlinson got stuck in with great aggression in the rucking drills and may yet find himself in the Sharks team and playing against his teammates from North Harbour when the Sharks play the Blues in Auckland next month.

Talking of locks, Philip Smit is still in hospital after collapsing with viral meningitis after the Hurricanes game.

He is expected to be released soon but it may be a while before he is seen anywhere near a rugby field.

With Albert van den Berg unavailable for another month or so, and AJ Venter suspended, locks are like hens' teeth at King's Park.

Last night Charl van Rensburg, usually a flank, was the only fully fit lock at training besides newcomer Rawlinson.

Andre Snyman participated fully in training, showing no adverse affects from the broken nose he sustained on Friday.