The Sharks might be without two of their most bruising forwards, back row stars Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel, when their Super Rugby season gets underway next month.
They open their campaign when they travel to Pretoria on February 24 to take on the three-time champion Bulls.
Having turned down an invitation to join the Stormers and the Lions in the traditional pre-season tournament at Newlands at the end of the month, the Sharks will play the First Division champions, the Boland Cavaliers, and beaten finalists, the Eastern Province Kings, over two weekends in early February.
The two injured stars, Alberts and Deysel, will not feature in any of the pre-season matches and are in a race against time to be fit for the season opener against the Bulls.
Coach John Plumtree said his team’s build-up so far has been the same as every pre-season.
“You get your players in different aspects of training and those who are in rehab,” Plumtree said.
“We have Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel that are under pressure to be fit for the start of the season, but they’re on track.
“The players have all had their programmes over Christmas and have worked pretty hard, so I’m happy with that.”
Aside from Alberts and Deysel, scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann has injured a pectoral muscle in the gym and Plumtree has confirmed that he could be out for four weeks.
“Hopefully, he will be ok by the start of the season,” the coach added.
Other players who missed the final weeks of the Currie Cup, centre Meyer Bosman and utility back Louis Ludik, are both back at training.
The Sharks coach is confident that the team has enough depth to cope with the injuries.
“If you look at our forwards, there is a lot of experience there now and some of these guys have been playing Super Rugby for five or six years,” he said, adding: “In the backs, there is a mixture of experience and youth.
“We’ll see an introduction of young players as well during the campaign which is positive going forward.
“I think we’re in good shape but it’s a long competition isn’t it? If you lose two or three guys to injury, especially if it’s in the same position, then suddenly you can come under pressure.
“But the Under-21s did well last year and our Vodacom Cup side is full of promising youngsters as well so we’ll also able to draw from them.”