Springbok and Sharks prop "Beast" Mtawarira made a successful comeback from pre-season ankle surgery in the Vodacom Cup at the weekend, starting for the Sharks XV in their game against the EP Kings. Picture: Steve Haag/ Gallo Images
For the first time this season, Sharks coach John Plumtree could have a near full-strength squad to choose from when the team returns from this weekend’s bye to face the Highlanders at Mr Price Kings Park next Saturday.
Most notably, influential prop “Beast” Mtawarira is expected to be available for selection after missing the first half of the Super Rugby season because of an ankle fracture.
Last Saturday, Mtawarira made his return to competitive competition with the Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup, and team doctor Ewoudt van der Linde said it had been a successful outing.
“Beast did very well, he came through 60 minutes for The Sharks XV and will probably get more game time this weekend and then come into the Sharks training squad next week. This week there will be a push for Ryan Kankowski to play against the Pampas XV in the Vodacom Cup; if he does, then he should be available to The Sharks next weekend.”
Kankowski has been sidelined since fracturing his thumb in the first round, so the return of the athletic No 8 would be another big boost for the Durban side.
In other good news, the injuries picked up Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis and Lwazi Mvovo against the Chiefs have been confirmed as nothing too serious, and all three Springboks should be able to face the Highlanders.
Winger Odwa Ndungane is also well on his way to recovery from a groin injury, and so it’s really just locks Alistair Hargreaves and Steven Sykes who are still out of action.
The Sharks know that they can ill-afford to lose many more games if they hopes to make the Super Rugby play-offs, and so the return of reinforcements at the halfway mark of the season will certainly be warmly welcomed.