Sharks coach Sean Everitt and Bulls counterpart Jake White will only know on Tuesday evening which players they will have at their disposal for the Currie Cup final.
DURBAN – Preparing for a Currie Cup final is stressful at the best of times but spare a thought for rival coaches Sean Everitt of the Sharks and Jake White of the Bulls, who will only know this evening which players they have at their disposal for the most important match of the season.
Sharks chief executive Eduard Coetzee confirmed that the Sharks were due to undergo Covid-19 tests at 7am on Tuesday morning, and presumably it is the same at the Bulls, with all teams having to follow the same protocols (more than 48 hours must lapse after a game has ended before players can be tested).
Then there is the dreaded 12-hour wait for the results …
After the Sharks beat Western Province in last weekend’s semi-final, it was revealing when Everitt commented that the challenges facing all of the teams are more difficult than they let on.
“We always say it (the constant uncertainty over who can play and who can’t) does not affect our preparations, but it does,” he said.
Everitt also alluded to the wisdom of SA Rugby in allowing the four semi-finalists an extra week to prepare for the knockouts so that they could consolidate their squads.
“That two weeks before the semis gave us a good opportunity to build, even though we only got some guys back on the Monday,” the Sharks coach said. “When you can’t have consistency in selection, or have the training sessions you want, it is challenging, and I am proud of these guys being in a final now after difficult times – they deserve it.”
The Sharks have been the worst hit of all the teams, with over 20 players testing positive in the week of the round robin match against WP, which had to be called off.
Obviously, Everitt, who himself has had his period in isolation, will be on the edge of his seat when the results come in this evening.
And it is when Covid-19 hits a key player – or an area in the team where depth is questionable – that the coach’s stress levels rocket.
The Sharks for instance, are over-reliant on Thomas du Toit at tighthead, and he was sorely missed when he was isolated.
If the results are kind to the Sharks, they should be in good shape for the final. After the semi-final there was concern over the fitness of Sanele Nohamba, who was flattened by a well-timed tackle by Angelo Davids, but Everitt said the young scrumhalf was unscathed.
“Sanele was not injured in that hit,” he said. “That was not the reason why he came off (not long after). We just thought Jaden (Hendrikse) would offer more later in the game because Sanele was coming back from Covid-19.”