Sharks: 'Have boots, will play'
REACTION: The Sharks will field a team in Bloemfontein on Sunday, come what may!
Despite the cloud of doubt over an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the Sharks camp, they will fulfil their Currie Cup Round Five fixture.
Eduard Coetzee, the Sharks Chief Executive Officer, confirmed to @rugby365com that they have delayed the announcement of their team till Friday – due to some “late fitness results”.
The Sharks went through their routine COVID-19 testing earlier this week, then returned a handful of positive results and had a second round of testing.
However, regardless of the outcome of the second batch of tests, the Sharks will field a team on Sunday.
“We have already drafted in a group of our Under-21 players,” Coetzee told this website.
“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases appears to be happy with our protocols,” the Sharks boss said.
The Sharks CEO added a touch of humour to the pressing situation by suggesting he will be willing to ‘lace-up’ and run out if the need requires – almost a ‘have boots, will play’ Golden Oldies type scenario.
“I will take my boots and whistle along to Bloemfontein,” he quipped, adding: “However, I’ll take very limited contact.”
The Sharks, like the Cheetahs, desperate to play and have an opportunity to recover lost ground lost on the standings.
The Sharks are currently third on the log, one point behind the resurgent Lions (who have 29 points), but they have a game in hand – as do fourth-placed Western Province (two points behind the Sharks) and the fifth-placed Cheetahs (21 points).
The Bulls are on 35 points.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie welcomed the attitude of the Sharks to make the game happen, despite the obvious challenges.
“Eduard Coetzee committed to us and said they will definitely play,” Fourie told @rugby365com.
He said the Cheetahs had a full-on training run on Thursday, take the day off on Christmas Day, Friday, with a “short, sharp” training session planned for Saturday.
“It will be for a lot of us the first game we will play on a Sunday,” Fourie added, adding: “It will be a first for us.”
It is also a long build-up for the Cheetahs – who played the Pumas in Nelspruit last week Friday and have 10 days till Sunday’s outing.
“We had to juggle our schedule to keep the players fresh and ensure we get all our preparation done.”