COVID-19 scramble for Sharks
NEWS: The Sharks’ build-up to their Super Rugby Unlocked Round Six match against Griquas has been given an unexpected hurdle.
The Sharks travel to Kimberley on Friday for an encounter with the unpredictable and tricky Northern Cape outfit.
A delay in the arrival of the of their weekly COVID-19 testing results has caused some ‘minor’ adjustments for the Durban-based franchise.
Wednesday’s morning training run has been moved to the afternoon, while the planned team announcement and media sessions were postponed till Thursday.
Any further disruptions or delays could have a real impact on the Sharks, who are desperate to close the gap on the table-topping Bulls in the race to the domestic title.
With just two rounds remaining the Bulls, who have a bye this week, are on 19 points – with four wins and a loss from their five outings.
The Stormers and Sharks are in joint second place (13 points) with three wins from four matches – the Stormers having a slightly better points differential, plus-11 against plus-five.
The Cheetahs, early pace setters until their campaign was disrupted by a COVID-19 scare in the Lions camp, are on 12 points – with two wins and a draw (the result of their cancelled match against the Lions) from four matches.
The Sharks will need a full-house five points from their trip to Kimberley and then repeat the exercise when they host the Stormers in Durban in the final round of fixtures next week.
They also need the Bulls to slip against the Pumas.
However, first they need to get the job done against Griquas on Friday.
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A very familiar face awaits the Sharks in Kimberley.
Griquas coach Scott Mathie featured in 40-odd games for the Sharks between 2006 and 2008, before he headed off to Europe – where he played for Leeds Carnegie and Sale Sharks.
When Mathie moved into coaching he was an assistant coach to current Sharks forward coach Brent Janse van Vuuren at Griquas.
Mathie also coached at schoolboy level, at Durban High School, between 2016 and 2019.
Current Sharks Sanele Nohamba (scrumhalf) and Phepsi Buthelezi (loose forward) were members of that Durban High First XV coached by Mathie.
“Scott coached me at school and I know how good he is,” Buthelezi told a virtual media briefing this week.