Mixed bag for Sharks
The Sharks starts their campaign when they travel to Johannesburg to take on the Lions – beaten finalists the last two years – on February 17.
There were two injuries in their 31-14 victory over Racing 92 in Hong Kong at the weekend.
Centre Jeremy Ward – who was selected to play in both warm-up matches, against the Bulls in Polokwane and then Racing 22 this past weekend in Hong Kong – suffered a hand fracture,
He required surgery and the centre will be out for around eight weeks.
Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder is nursing a hamstring injury and his return is estimated at between four and six weeks.
Four other players are back in the mix for selection to play the Lions.
Daniel du Preez, Armand van der Merwe, Michael Claassens and Jean Droste will be training with the team from next week and will be available for Super Rugby duty from week one.
There is one very important long-term injury setback, while the rest of the players who have been spending time under the eyes of the medical staff are expected to be eased back into action over the coming weeks.
Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will not be available for any matches this Super Rugby season.
He returned home from the year-end tour in November last year after sustaining a knee injury against Ireland.
The ACL rupture is responding well to treatment and his rehabilitation is going very well.
His expected return to play is nine months.
There are a number of players who have had minor surgeries and other injuries that will keep them out of action for a few more weeks.
Loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez underwent ankle surgery in November and is on track for a return to action in March.
After their first-round encounter with the Lions, the Sharks have an early bye in week two – before hosting the 2014 champion Waratahs on March 3.