Covid-19 has an impact on the Sharks' plans in Super Rugby Unlocked

Henco Venter of the Cell C Sharks during the Super Rugby Unlocked matvh between Cell C Sharks and Toyota Cheetahs at Jonsson Kings Park on November 06, 2020 in Durban, South Africa.
Henco Venter of the Cell C Sharks during the Super Rugby Unlocked matvh between Cell C Sharks and Toyota Cheetahs at Jonsson Kings Park on November 06, 2020 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Covid-19 continues to loom large over South African sport after the Sharks became the latest team to be afflicted by the virus.

Ahead of Friday’s Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Griquas in Kimberley‚ the Sharks have one player who tested positive while two were in close contact with him.

With doctor/patient confidentiality being respected‚ the players weren’t named but Sharks coach Sean Everitt said the players were going to be involved in Friday’s game.

“It didn’t really affect our preparations. We trained well together on Monday and we had no idea of who was going to play on Monday. We had a training session late in the afternoon.

"It also worked out well because of all the rain‚ the fields were waterlogged. When they dried up‚ we had a chance for a very good training session‚” Everitt said.

“You can never know how many people have been infected‚ so we’ve done our analysis of our training on Monday and fortunately there wasn’t a lot of contact. That reduced the number of guys who came into contact with the player. Sometimes‚ these situations are out of your control and you just need to focus on the job at hand.”

From a match-day perspective‚ Kerron van Vuuren returns to the starting berth at hooker while Thembelani Bholi gets a start at flank. Anthony Volmink will make his Sharks debut at full while loosehead prop Khwezi Mona is set to make his debut from the bench.

The Sharks‚ who were led by Henco Venter in their 19-13 win against the Cheetahs last week‚ will be captained by centre Jeremy Ward with Cameron Wright‚ who was with the Southern Kings‚ returning as scrumhalf cover in the injury-enforced absences of Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse.

Everitt said their collective preparation for a match allow players to step in seamlessly in the event of illness and injuries. However‚ he did not underestimate a Griquas team that’s had a tendency of upsetting the Sharks.

“Everyone prepares for the game as if they’re all going to play. It hasn’t disrupted our plans. If anything‚ we have an opportunity to start with a guy like Thembelani Bholi‚ who has made an impact off the bench in the last two weeks. We know that the Griquas in Kimberley are always a difficult proposition‚” Everitt said.

“Even though they played the Bulls away‚ they were competitive for large stretches of that game and it was only in the last 10 minutes where the [the Pretoria side] really got some ascendancy on them.

"We’re under no false illusions as to what to expect from them. They gave us a good beating in Durban last year and that remains fresh in our player’s minds.”

Teams:

Griquas: 15 Masixole Banda‚ 14 Ederies Arendse‚ 13 Harlon Klaasen‚ 12 Johnathan Francke‚ 11 Eduan Keyter‚ 10 George Whitehead (captain)‚ 9 Zak Burger‚ 8 Johan Momsen‚ 7 Stefan Willemse‚ 6 Gideon van der Merwe‚ 5 Cameron Lindsay‚ 4 Adre Smith‚ 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen‚ 2 HJ Luus‚ 1 Mox Mxoli.

Replacements: Monde Hadebe‚ Andrew Beerwinkel‚ Madot Mabokela‚ Carl Els‚ CJ Velleman‚ Theo Maree‚ Tinus de Beer‚ Daniel Kasende‚ Bandisa Ndlovu‚ Ewan Coetzee‚ Ashlon Davids.

Sharks : 15 Anthony Volmink‚ 14 Yaw Penxe‚ 13 Jeremy Ward (c)‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Madosh Tambwe‚ 10 Curwin Bosch‚ 9 Sanele Nohamba‚ 8 Phepsi Buthelezi‚ 7 Thembelani Bholi‚ 6 James Venter‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 Ruben van Heerden‚ 3 John-Hubert Meyer‚ 2 Kerron van Vuuren‚ 1 Ox Nche.

Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste‚ 17 Mzamo Majola‚ 18 Khwezi Mona‚ 19 JJ van der Mescht‚ 20 Dylan Richardson‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Manie Libbok‚ 23 Sbu Nkosi.

Referee: Griffin Colby

Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge‚ Paul Mente

TMO: Jaco Peyper

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