Sharks decimated by injuries ahead of tour
Sharks coach John Plumtree must be wondering just what lies ahead for his side on their Australasian section of the Investec Super Rugby campaign.
Plumtree said before the side left Durban, "Our immediate priority is just to get 26 fit people for this tour. We have to go across there and be prepared to play against the Chiefs and Highlanders in New Zealand and then see where we are after that.
"There are 15 guys out injured now, which is a whole rugby team. We've just got to get on with it though and pick everyone up.
"We can't look at the permutations, we just have to get our team selected and target every game we play," he said.
Plumtree did say his side was worse off at the same time last year yet still managed to come back and play in the final.
But he added, "We had lost more games this time last year and it is true we will be getting players back as the competition goes along but we keep getting more injuries and the problem is that by the time everyone is back we might be out of the competition if we aren't careful."
Plumtree said the situation was difficult for the side because new players were having to be introduced to the team's plays which required a lot of patience. He added the players were working hard at sorting the issues and he couldn't fault them for their efforts.
Missing from the powerhouse forward pack associated with the Sharks are Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and Willem Alberts. JP Pietersen has made the touring side although he has an ankle injury.
But even having had the luxury of the Lions to call on hasn't been a complete fix. One of them, back Andries Coetzee, injured his shoulder in the loss to the Cheetahs and couldn't be considered.
Joining the touring side from the Lions are: Francois van der Merwe, Derick Minnie, Piet Lindeque and JC Janse van Rensburg.
However, van Rensburg is in France and may only be able to join the side ahead of the Highlanders game.
The Sharks are due to open their tour against the Chiefs on Saturday in Hamilton, with games against the Highlanders, Reds and Force to follow.
Add to that their loss to the Cheetahs and the team is in a crisis situation.
"The result was a setback for us, big time, and it puts us under massive pressure now," Plumtree said.
"We suffered from a lack of experience in this game. When we should have gone left we went right. What we need at the moment is that composure that is lacking and wiich some of the youngsters we are using don't quite have yet. They need to get their heads around," he told South African media after the loss.