WITH pre-season preparations and even warm-up games now under way, Super 14 fever is once again taking hold of the rugby fraternity ahead of the opening round of fixtures in mid-February.
In Durban, the Sharks have been involved in training since early this month. Most of their Springbok players were given December off to rest and recuperate and the beginning of the year has provided them with the opportunity to get back into top shape and continue rehabilitation for a variety of niggles.
Though a number of injury woes have been reported, it would seem the only major casualty is Argentinian flyhalf Juan Hernandez, who has been ruled out of the Super 14 with a back injury. His absence has left the Sharks in search of a replacement flyhalf, with Ruan Pienaar or Monty Dumond reportedly set to fill the void as a short-term solution.
Pienaar, though, is still recovering from a knee operation, similarly to new recruit Louis Ludik, who is in a race against time to be fit for the Sharks' opening match against the Chiefs on February 13.
Ludik, who can play at fullback, wing or even centre, has joined the Durban team from the Lions, along with fellow teammates from Johannesburg, eighthman Willem Alberts and lock Gerhard Mostert.
The Sharks have also welcomed former player and coach Hugh Reece-Edwards into their midst, with the rugby veteran rejoining the team as a backline assistant. - Sapa