Aphelele Fassi’s shoulder injury is a big blow for the Sharks‚ but their coach Sean Everitt has a more than capable replacement in Manie Libbok to fill that void at fullback.
The Sharks will be up against the Bulls at Super Fan Saturday at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday in a clash of the known and the unknown.
It will be the Bulls’ first game under Jake White while the Sharks‚ who have six players out injured‚ will want to pick up from where they left off in Super Rugby.
While a squad was announced‚ Everitt confirmed Sevens legend Werner Kok will be starting at wing and will move to centre as the game progresses.
However‚ the Fassi void is one Everitt still feels can be effectively filled.
“Aphelele Fassi’s injury is devastating because it came at a time where he was being talked up of being a Springbok later this year and rightfully so‚” Everitt said.
“The form he displayed in Super Rugby made him a strong candidate for the No.15 jersey.
"These things happen in rugby and most of these injuries were as a result of bad luck. We’ll miss Fassi‚ but he’ll bounce back.
“Manie is a dangerous X-factor player. He’s really versatile and offers us something in the mould of Curwin Bosch and Fassi. I’m excited to see how he goes on Saturday. He’s been exciting in training.”
With SA Rugby outlining and communicating plans to the franchises in terms of how Saturday’s fixture will be used to combat racial discrimination‚ Everitt said they would be following the mother body’s directive.
“At the Sharks‚ we embrace diversity. At the same time‚ we have to respect player’s cultures and backgrounds‚” Everitt said.
“We get on very well here at the Sharks and we have a good vibe here. SA Rugby has delivered a directive and we’ll follow suit.”
When Super Rugby was forced into an indefinite Covid-19 break the result was that the Sharks will have to start over when they were South Africa’s form team.
Everitt was happy with where the Sharks were at the break‚ but knows the hard work that was put in at the time will have to be repeated in the forthcoming domestic tournament.
“It’s about preparation. We’ve been out for seven months and we’ve needed to revise and reinstall our game model to make sure the guys know what they’re trying to do‚” he said.
“We’re also taking a few youngsters to measure where they are. We also want to see where we are in terms of tempo‚ accuracy and conditioning. We finished well in Super Rugby‚ but that doesn’t mean we know where we are right now.
“We were happy where we were‚ but in being a realist‚ we were very fortunate with injuries.
"The long preseason enabled us to work on many things and it paid off at the start of the season.
“We don’t have control of many things and dwelling on the past won’t help. We have to look forward‚ but it’s sad there were some players who weren’t able to say goodbye.”
Ox Nche‚ Mzamo Majola‚ Dylan Richardson‚ Dan Jooste‚ Thomas du Toit‚ John-Hubert Meyer‚ Ruben van Heerden‚ JJ van der Mescht‚ Hyron Andrews‚ Emile van Heerden‚ Evan Roos‚ Adam Mountfort‚ Celimpilo Gumede‚ Tera Mtembu‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Phepsi Buthelezi
Grant Williams‚ Sanele Nohamba‚ Jaden Hendrikse‚ Curwin Bosch‚ Jordan Chait‚ Muller du Plessis‚ Caleb Dingaan‚ Jeremy Ward‚ Marius Louw‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ JP Pietersen‚ Werner Kok‚ Manie Libbok‚ Thaakir Abrahams.