Sharks leave injured stars behind
Sharks leave injured stars behindSHARE
It was a bruised and battered Sharks team that left South Africa on Sunday en route to New Zealand, leaving behind a number of injured players.
Following their disappointing 6-12 loss to the Cheetahs in dour arm-wrestle in dire conditions in Durban at the weekend, the Sharks now face a very demanding four-match Australasian trip.
It starts when they take on the Chiefs in a replay of last year's Final, in Hamilton on Saturday (April 27), before they tackle the Highlanders in Dunedin, the Reds (whom they beat in a preliminary play-off match last year) in Brisbane and conclude the trip when they head to Perth to face the Western Force.
However, the encounter with the Cheetahs have come at a heavy cost.
Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira sustained a calf injury, while Lions loan player Andries Coetzee went off with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Sharks coach John Plumtree admitted the injuries were not ideal for the struggling outfit.
"It's not looking good for Beast [Mtawarira] and he won't be on the plane," Plumtree told a media scrum in Durban.
"He's probably out for four weeks," the coach added.
"I was really disappointed about Andries [Coetzee], because I thought he played really well too. He could be out for a couple of months."
Also missing the tour with injury are backs Lwazi Mvovo (hand), Tim Whitehead (hand), Butch James (knee), Louis Ludik (shoulder) and forwards Bismarck du Plessis (knee), Jacques Botes (hand) and Willem Alberts (shoulder).
It was not just the injuries that disappointed Plumtree, who felt the encounter with the Cheetahs was a game they should have won.
"We created plenty of opportunities and I thought we played all the rugby," Plumtree said.
"I think the Cheetahs played no rugby. They just kicked the ball away all night. We wanted to be a bit more ambitious and as positive as we could, but weren't entirely accurate.
"Losing [this match] is a big set-back.
"We needed that win big time before going on tour, but didn't quite get it and that puts us under a fair bit of pressure now."