Sharks happy with breather as Super Rugby put on ice

WELCOME RESPITE: Cell C Sharks coach Sean Everitt, centre, is happy with the break
WELCOME RESPITE: Cell C Sharks coach Sean Everitt, centre, is happy with the break

The coronavirus may have put an indefinite halt to Super Rugby proceedings‚ but the break is a welcome one for the table-topping Sharks.

The Sharks will stay at the top of the table in the interim after slugging out a 24-14 win against the Stormers at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The Sharks had been due for a bye after this week’s game against the Chiefs.

Due to the spread of the virus and measures employed by governments to contain the contagion, that game and the rest of the matches will not be taking place.

The early Sunday morning fixture between the Jaguares and the Highlanders was called off but the Australian derby between the Brumbies and the Waratahs took place in Canberra on Sunday morning SA time.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt said he understood the unfortunate nature of the break and had made peace with the fact it was out of his control.

“It’s a welcome break for us. Our guys are knackered.

“They gave it everything in this game and they’ve been doing this each week but we haven’t played a complete game‚” Everitt said.

“We’ve been good in some areas and weak in others‚ but where we’ve been good‚ that’s bailed us out. Our guys need the break.

“Unfortunately‚ we can’t host the Chiefs next week and I think the spectators would have loved to come and watch.

"That’s the way it is and we can’t control that. We’ll welcome the break.”

With the tackle-in-the-air incident involving Stormers flank Johan du Toit and Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder in the first minute headlining a game of unexciting ebbs and flows‚ Everitt said the safety of the players was paramount.

He shied away from commenting on what should have been the appropriate sanction for Du Toit‚ who was yellow-carded by referee AJ Jacobs.

“It’s difficult to say. We did look at it but my whole philosophy about rugby is to keep the game safe.

"Maybe that comes from me being a teacher and coaching younger players‚” Everitt said.

“We can all do better in making the game safer.

"Whether it’s a yellow or red card‚ that’s debatable. We lost a player and it was dangerous‚ otherwise‚ he wouldn’t have gone off.”

Everitt was impressed with his team’s effort in a game that could have been a potential banana skin for the Sharks considering the known strength of the Stormers’ forwards.

“We were under pressure during the week with regards to our set piece and playing against a Springbok pack.

"Our guys stuck to the task‚ there was a lot of adversity in the game but the guys hung in. All credit must go to the players‚” Everitt said.

Meanwhile, The Lions Rugby Company confirmed that its players had returned to SA on Sunday night from their suspended Super Rugby tour of New Zealand‚ and were all in self-isolation.

The rest of the team management was expected to arrive on Monday evening and would also go into self-isolation for a minimum of 14 days.

“It is difficult circumstances but people’s health comes first,” Lions Rugby Company CEO Rudolf Straeuli said.

“Sanzaar is in ongoing discussions with broadcasters and have been keeping everyone informed of the decisions.

“The situation will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.”

The Lions Rugby Company said its SuperSport Challenge team had not been travelling abroad.

The squad would continue with their full training programme at Johannesburg Stadium‚ but would be closely monitored on a daily basis by the medical team.

“The welfare and safety of our players and the public is our first priority and we will abide with the relative governing bodies and authorities.”

The Lions medical team reported that Manuel Rass was suffering from an ankle sprain and was due for an MRI scan.

Hacjivah Dayimani was struggling with a grade 2 MCL tear in his knee and would go for a sonar scan. — TimesLIVE