While there is good news for the Sharks on the injury front, the Chiefs camp has been hit by a staggering injury crisis
There was good news for the Sharks on the injury front on Monday with the revelation that Francois Steyn (ribs) might yet play on Saturday, and so might captain Johann Muller (calf), but this contrasted sharply with the staggering injury crisis in the Chiefs camp.
Mike Greenaway writes in The Mercury that seven Chiefs players who featured in their shock loss to the Lions at Ellis Park are injured and one player, prop Ben May, has gone home after being suspended for stamping on a Lions player.
Three of the injured seven – David Bason, Simms Davison and Simon Lemalu – have already gone home to Hamilton, and worried coach Ian Foster said the next 48 hours would determine whether stars No 8 Sione Lauaki (hamstring), wing Sititveni Sivivatu (ankle) and hooker Tom Willis (oblique) would be able to play.
“We’ve had a nightmare in the past 24 hours trying to figure it all out,” Foster said on the Chiefs’ website.
The coach has sent for fresh replacements in the form of Brendon Leonard (scrumhalf), Murray Williams (midfield back), Nathan White (prop) and John Paeranga (hooker).
“We’re still assessing Lauaki, Sivivatu and Donald with his neck, which is extremely sore and in a brace,” said the coach.
“X-rays found no fractures in Sivivatu or Donald, but their injuries are causing both a lot of swelling and pain.”
The Chiefs were riding high in the competition until they hit the road a fortnight ago, and a 21-22 loss to the Western Force in Perth was followed by the 33-27 defeat by the Lions, which leaves the Chiefs needing a mathematical miracle to make the top four.
The Sharks, on the other hand, revived their hopes of making the play-offs when they took five points from their match against the Cheetahs at the weekend.
On Monday night team doctor Craig Roberts said that many of his charges were nursing bumps and bruises, but all should recover, except perhaps Steyn.
The latter damaged rib cartilage when he fell on a ball towards the end of the match with a Cheetahs player on top of him, but he is recovering quickly and his chances of playing are rated 50-50 by the doctor.
Muller missed the Cheetahs game because of a calf injury, but he is likely to return this week in place of Albert van den Berg.
If Steyn cannot play, Bradley Barritt will resume in the No 12 jersey.
On Monday night coach Dick Muir said the biggest factor in favour of his team’s making the semi-finals was the fact that the Sharks-Chiefs game was the very last of the weekend.
“It is a massive advantage for us,” Muir said. “We will know exactly where we stand when we take the field. We will know if we just have to win, or whether we will have to win by a specific margin. The teams playing before don’t have that luxury.
“Two seasons ago, we played on the Friday of the final round and thought we had enough points to go through, but the Bulls played in the last game, against the Stormers, and had a specific target to aim at (33 points), and they got it to go through ahead of us on points difference.”Tweet