FINAL BLOW: Sharks sans Springbok stars

Two World Cup-winning Springboks, Lukhanyo Am and Jaden Hendrikse, have been ruled out of the Sharks’ Challenge Cup final against Gloucester in London on Friday.

SHARKS SUFFER SPRINGBOK SETBACK

There was mixed injury news out of the Sharks camp on Tuesday, with director of rugby Neil Powell confirming that Hendrikse and Am will play no part in their title encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Hendrikse is still recovering from an injury he suffered against Scarlets in Llanelli last month, while Am was one of three Springboks – Eben Etzebeth and Vincent Koch the others – that was forced off in the first half of their match against Benetton at King Park a fort night ago.

“Am is going to be out for a while. I am not sure about the extent of his injury,” Powell said. He has a shoulder injury that he is struggling with and a fractured rib. He will be out for quite a few weeks. It’s definitely the end of the URC and EPCR campaign for him.

“It’s always a big loss to not have your national players and also your captain. Lukhanyo has been really good for us this season. In knockout games, you want your senior players to be available. So it is a bit of a big loss for us.”

GOOD NEWS AMID THE GLOOM

In better news for the Challenge Cup finalists, Etzebeth and Koch are expected to be fit for the final, while centre Ethan Hooker also recovered from his ankle injury suffered in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Clermont.

“I think we have capable replacements. Ethan Hooker has done well to put up his hand and show that he can play at this level,” Powell said.

The Challenge Cup final between the Sharks and Gloucester kicks off at 9pm (South African time) on Friday night.

Springbok and Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am. Image: Facebook/The Sharks