The Sharks are braced for a tough encounter this weekend up against a Lions team that look to have regained their attacking prowess amid a front-row injury crisis within the Durban side.
On Tuesday, the Sharks medical team confirmed that veteran prop Tendai Mtwariria (MCL injury – left knee) and ex-Lions hooker Armand van der Merwe (shoulder injury) will both be unavailable for this weekend clash against the three-time finalists.
They join loosehead prop Thomas du Toit on the sidelines as well as Lwazi Mvovo and Craig Burden who are both also nursing injuries and will not feature at Kingspark.
The Sharks are coming off a bye and will be fearful for a backlash performance after they put the Lions to the sword in Johannesburg in a game where the Lions had also just come off a bye.
The Lions had a week off following a poor return and have since edged the Waratahs by a single point before beating the Highlanders 38-29 last week.
The Lions have yet to release their injury update but Warren Whiteley could be in line to make a return after sitting out the Highlanders clash as a precaution for a bruised knee whilst the return of Dylan Smith last week serves as a timely warning to a depleted Sharks front row.
Speaking to the official website, Sharks assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher said they were expecting a much closer competition than in Johannesburg earlier this season.
“We know it’s going to be tough against a quality side, that loves playing attacking rugby. We expect a physical match, as all South African derbies always are, but the players are in a good space and took some nice momentum from the tour”
The Sharks will depart for New Zealand after the Lions game to face the Hurricanes before heading to Argentina for a clash against the Jaguares before finishing the group stages in Cape Town against the Stormers.