Sharks report clean bill of health

Sharks coach Sean Everitt is confident they will be able to fulfil their Currie Cup semi-final duties against Western Province next Saturday.

Having finished third in the standings after the round-robin phase of the competition, the Sharks will make the trip to Cape Town to face Province on Saturday, 23 January.

The playoffs were postponed by a week as a precautionary measure due to Covid-19, after the Sharks returned several positive tests, which resulted in the cancellation of their final round-robin match against Province.

Speaking to the media in an online conference on Thursday, Sharks head coach Everitt allayed fears that they will have to withdraw from next weekend’s semi-final.

‘I am extremely confident as far as that is concerned,’ Everitt said. ‘The players have really tried hard and isolated themselves at home. I believe the Bulls, Lions and Province are in the same boat. Nobody wants to lose the opportunity to play in a semi and possibly a final. We can only control what we can control and as we stand now, we will have a full team to select from this week.

‘All of our results from Tuesday’s testing have come back negative so we have been able to get the show on the road and prepare really well.

‘We did have a number of players who tested positive last week. Some of those guys will only start their return-to-play process from tomorrow [Friday] and Saturday.  The rest of the contacts have resumed training, so we are in a good space right now.

‘We are testing again later in the week on Sunday, but at the moment nobody has been ruled out. ‘

Prior to this week’s break, the Sharks were able to find some attacking form in a bonus-point win over the Pumas in Nelspruit. However, after two weekends off, that momentum may have been disrupted.

Pointing to how they returned from a bye week to beat the Vodacom Bulls at Kings Park in December, Everitt was confident his side would be able to pick up where they left off next week.

‘We have shown that when we are able to pick our best team, that team does perform. We had a break before we played the Bulls at Kings Park and the guys adjusted really well and came back strongly. I expect the same next week. Obviously, your rhythm does get disrupted when you don’t play.

‘It depends on how different teams train. We have trained in a 15-vs-15 format, so there is a bit of game practice. Our guys are raring to go. We have got some good players returning from isolation and a good squad to select from. That motivates the players and keeps them positive.’

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack