Captaincy blow for Sharks
Captaincy blow for SharksSHARE
The Sharks paid a dear price on their first pre-season hit-out, losing captain Keegan Daniel for six weeks.
And the injury setbacks didn't stop there.
Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards confirmed that Daniel sustained a grade two injury to his medial cruciate ligament in the knee and is expected to be out for six weeks.
Centre Tim Whitehead has a fractured arm and should spend six to eight weeks on the side lines.
It means both players will miss the opening rounds of the 2012 finalists' campaign this year.
Bok midfielder Frans Steyn looks set to take over the captaincy role.
It was also confirmed that veteran Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis's rehabilitation from ACL surgery is on track and his return to play is expected by the time the Sharks go on tour in Week Nine.
"We go into this week's game [against the Pumas on Friday] praying that there are no more injuries at this stage," Reece-Edwards said on the Sharks' website.
The return to Durban of Bok Ryan Kankowski from Japan, as well as the great form of Lubabalo Mtembu in last Friday's game – where he scored a brace of tries in the Sharks 71-8 defeat of the Leopards does mean that the Sharks are well-covered in the loose forward department.
They also have sufficient depth amongst the backs.
The Sharks are also expecting to have veteran Boks Jannie du Plessis and JP Pietersen back for their second and final warm-up game.
Despite the injury setbacks Reece-Edwards felt that they could have done with greater physicality from the game.
"Unfortunately the hit out wasn't as physical as we had hoped for," he admitted.
"I don't think we played a Leopards top team, I think they were experimenting quite a bit as well."
But from a Sharks perspective, he was pleased with their effort and showing as they look ahead to their final game, against the Pumas at KaNyamazane Stadium on Friday.
"But from the point of view of the players' excitement, some good ball handling and some good play, I'm really happy with that, we'd be happy with that against any side. But we needed it to be a little bit harder and I think we're hoping to get that this weekend against the Pumas."