Head coach Sean Everitt has sounded the alarm about increased demands on already stretched South African team squads playing in multiple competitions.
Everitt was speaking after his Sharks side lost in a nail-biting Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Durbanites’ Currie Cup outfit also went down in a nine-try thriller to the Lions at Kings Park.
Everitt has suggested that the Sharks, Bulls, and Stormers, as well as the Lions and Cheetahs, will need significantly larger groups to be competitive in the URC and the European Champions and Challenge Cups, respectively, next season.
He also warned that adding more competitions to the calendar, with the amount of rugby the current crop of SA players have already played, could lead to cases of burnout and injuries if they’re not properly managed.
“[Saturday] we had to bring 26 players to Pretoria and have 26 in Durban. It is already 52 players,” the Sharks coach said.
“Our leading junior players are also preparing with the national U20 team. This makes it very difficult and I’m sure we are not the only franchise experiencing the predicament. You simply do not have enough numbers.
“There will also be injuries that you have to take into account and 10 of our players will join the Boks [on Monday] and we will only see many of them again in December. It’s a simple sum to make and is something that needs to be tackled.
“We have been playing uninterrupted since September 2020. And here we sit and still play rugby. The players need a good rest and a proper pre-season.”
Springboks Eben Etzebeth and Rohan Janse van Rensburg, along with Vincent Tshituka, Carlu Sadie and Lionel Cronje, will bolster the Sharks ranks from next season.
On his team’s disappointment at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, Everitt added: “Unfortunately, there were a couple of soft moments and this is what the competition has taught us. We pressurised the Bulls in the first 20 minutes and didn’t come away with the reward and then leaked a soft try.
“That’s been a story of our season. It could have gone either way at the end and we could have been more fortunate in the last five minutes, where I thought we did well to put pressure on and try to earn a penalty.
“I think we all understand now what it takes to win away from home.”
Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images
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