Super Rugby

Sharks lose Van der Walt for Lions clash

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The Sharks will play the Lions at Kings Park this weekend with Philip van der Walt due to an injury he sustained before the bye against the Crusaders.

Van der Walt started the match against the Crusaders but despite having a week off with the bye has not recovered from a neck injury sustained in the match.

While the Sharks have lost Van der Walt they have been given a boost in that both Etienne Oosthuizen and Lwazi Mvovo have recovered from the knocks they took and are available for selection.

Daniel du Preez also suffered a niggle but is back and likely to replace van der Walt.

Assistant coach Robert du Preez said that, “the players have returned to training energised after five weeks of matches in addition to two friendlies in France.”

“The guys have a spring in their step and are ready to go. They needed a break but they have a lot of energy and they will need it to not only train well this week but also for a match against a team that loves to run the ball. We all know what the Lions can do with ball in hand,” he said.

Not only is there the matter of crucial log points riding on the outcome of Saturday’s clash, but the desire to pack their bags with a spring in the step and confidence high ahead of their overseas tour to New Zealand.

“There is a lot riding on this one. We need to win before going on what is going to be a gruelling tour and we need to play well,” Du Preez added.

“First and foremost we need the win, but it will also be a good confidence shot if we can play good rugby as well. We have the Blues in Auckland, the Highlanders in Dunedin and then finish against the Chiefs (in Hamilton). That is a very tough tour and it will help tremendously if we get on the plane having won well. It would set the tone for the tour.”

Du Preez expects a big match on Saturday and said, “This game is going to be a spectacle, that is for sure, but vital for us. We are at home, we are coming off a home loss to the Crusaders, and the game will determine which team goes top of our Pool. Games against teams in your Pool carry added value.”

The Lions have enjoyed continuity over the last few years as far as playing and coaching personnel and that is reflected in the team’s good start to this year’s campaign.

“The Lions have been the form team in the Currie Cup over the last two years and they have continued that form into Super Rugby this year. They have been very impressive.”

The Sharks will name their tour squad for New Zealand on Friday.

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