The Sharks received a timely boost with the news that lock Steven Sykes will join up with his teammates in Sydney later this week – ahead of their Super Rugby encounter with the Waratahs.
Sykes had stayed behind in Durban when his teammates departed for Australasia on Sunday, to see a specialist on Monday for a meniscus injury to the knee sustained in the 27-22 win over the Reds at the weekend.
Pieter-Steph du Toit was on stand-by to join the touring team.
However, team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde said from Sydney that Sykes has been cleared to play this weekend. The knee injury is expected to settle down enough to ensure he is available to be selected for the team to face the Waratahs in Sydney.
The loss of Sykes could have been a cruel blow, considering they are already locks Alistair Hargreaves and Ross Skeate.
Hargreaves, who is struggling with a stress fracture of his left foot and still has the ‘moonboot’ on, should start running next week.
Skeate, who injured his neck, will be checked out again this week and could join up with his teammates later in the tour.
After Saturday’s encounter with the Tahs the Sharks will face the Brumbies, Hurricanes and Blues on tour.
The other injury concerns – Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis and Wiehahn Herbst – are not of major concern.
Du Plessis sustained a grade one strain to the calf, but the team doctor, Van der Linde, said that he should be passed fit to play the Waratahs this Saturday.
Herbst suffered a mild ligament injury to his knee and should be ready for the Brumbies’ match the following weekend.
The loss of two tighthead props has forced the Sharks into a rethink of the make-up of their touring squad, with loosehead prop Janro van Niekerk – on loan to the Sharks from Griquas - not touring.
With Sykes and van Niekerk not traveling, the touring squad that departed on Sunday comprised just 23 players.
Springbok JP Pietersen, playing at centre this season, should be ready in time for the Brumbies’ match. He pulled up with a quad strain in the pre-match warm-up ahead of the encounter with the Reds.