Makazole Mapimpi is expected to return to action for the Sharks in the clash against the Lions on 5 June, and coach Sean Everitt says it’s a ‘pleasure’ to have him back, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Mapimpi recently returned to Durban after completing his short-term stint with Japanese Top League side the Docomo Red Hurricanes.
After the lengthy Covid-19 disruption, Mapimpi eventually made his club debut in November and his Top League debut earlier this year. The World Cup-winning wing made an immediate impact, racking up a sequence of tries in quick succession.
Following this Japanese ‘sabbatical’, which has increasingly become a commonplace compromise of sorts in South African rugby, Mapimpi is back at the Shark Tank.
Although Everitt opted against rushing him straight back into action for this Saturday’s all-important Rainbow Cup clash against the Stormers, the Sharks coach said he had been warmly welcomed back by the Sharks.
‘He’s been amazing, on and off the field. He’s always in good knick from a conditioning perspective, but the fact is he hasn’t played much and trained much, so it was good for him to get a full week of training under the belt in preparation for his return, hopefully in two weeks’ time.’
While in Japan with the Red Hurricanes, Mapimpi played under former Lions coach Johan Ackermann, and alongside All Blacks star TJ Perenara.
‘He really enjoyed the experience,’ Everitt commented.
‘Makazole is a guy who likes to learn every day he comes to training. He prides himself on learning and going to bed at night having added something new to his knowledge. It was exciting and enriching for him, especially playing with the likes of TJ and learning from different coaches too.
‘He’s got some good ideas he’s come back with as well, and he certainly has been sharing a lot of info. One of the things he did say is that we don’t play very differently to the teams in Japan, but the detail within the model is just slightly different. So he’s been adding a lot of input in team meetings and training. It’s a pleasure to have him back.’
There will be a break in the Rainbow Cup SA competition next weekend as the Boks continue with a series of alignment camps, which Mapimpi is set to be apart of.
The 30-year-old speedster is then expected to feature against the Lions and Bulls on successive weekends. That latter clash could well determine if the Sharks can find away to finish top of the standings and subsequently book a place in a historic ‘North vs South’ final on 19 June.
Meanwhile, at Thursday’s virtual Sharks media briefing, Everitt also touched on the ‘devastating’ injury to Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who ruptured his patella tendon against the Bulls last weekend and is set to miss out on the British & Irish Lions tour.
‘It’s really unfortunate that he suffered such a severe injury, I think when it happened on the field no one would have imagined that he would have ruptured his patella tendon.
‘It is sad for him because he was the form No 8 and him and Duane would have gone head to head for that position for the Boks. It is devastating for him, but he is a positive guy and he had a successful surgery on Tuesday, but he will be out for a while.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
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