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AUDIO: Sharks sweating over fitness of three World Cup winners

INJURY UPDATE: Less than a fortnight before their big European Final, the Sharks are sweating over the fitness of three key World Cup-winning Springboks.

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Not only did the Sharks lose 24-25 to a fire-up Benetton at Kings Park on Saturday, but they may have lost World Cup-winning Springboks Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth and Lukhanyo Am to injury.

Benetton replacement Jacob Umaga scored a try and conversion in the 78th minute to snatch an unlikely United Rugby Championship win over the Sharks in Durban.

Coming back from 15-24 down, the Italian team scored 10 unanswered points in the final 10 minutes for a 25-24 win – to keep alive their play-off hopes and a place at Europe’s top table next season.

Less than two weeks out from their big European date, the Sharks will be concerned about the fitness of Koch and Eben Etzebeth, who left the field at the end of the first quarter, and Am – who left the field just before half-time.

Three other Boks – Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Grant Williams – failed to take to the field for the second half as coach John Plumtree looked to protect his valuable resources ahead of the Challenge Cup Final face-off with Gloucester at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24.

Coach John Plumtree was disappointed with the injuries, but remains hopeful to have them back for the big dance.

(John Plumtree’s injury update …)

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“I was hoping for them to get to half-time that they get through a good 40 minutes before the Final,” Plumtree said.

“That was the [big] frustration.

“I would have liked to have had no injuries.”

Asked for clarity on the issues, Plumtree said Etzebeth left the field for a Head Injury Assessment (concussion) and failed the test.

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“What he is complaining about now is his neck,” Plumtree told @rugby365com.

“He is heading to the physio for treatment, but I don’t think he will be too bad.”

Koch injured his ankle in a scrum, but walked without a limp after the game.

“The physio wasn’t too concerned about it,” the coach added.

“I’m hoping that it won’t be too serious.”

Am injured his sternoclavicular (SC) joint.

“We have the luxury that we don’t have to play these guys next week, which gives them another week of recovery,” Plumtree added.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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