Sharks now hope to play Cheetahs at King’s Park

2009-01-14 00:00

The Sharks are now hoping to play their pre-season friendly against the Cheetahs at King’s Park at the end of next week.

The Sharks and the Cheetahs were set to meet in Abu Dhabi on January 24 but the match was cancelled on Tuesday when the main sponsor — an overseas bank — suddenly withdrew.

But both the Sharks and the Cheetahs are keen for the game to go ahead on the same day and Durban’s King’s Park is the likely venue.

“The teams both need game time ahead of the Super 14,” Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl told The Witness yesterday.

“The players need more than just the one friendly [against the Bulls in Durban on February 4] ahead of the Super 14. We are talking to the Cheetahs and we are hoping to host the game down here on January 24.

“We should be able to make an announcement within a day or two.”

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské confirmed that the game will still be played and they were looking at an alternative South African venue for the friendly.

Van Zyl said the Sharks players were disappointed that the exciting venture had been cancelled.

Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Richard Harris, apologised to the players, referee Craig Joubert and promoter Willem Strauss.

“I have organised 28 games like this in nine years,” Strauss told News24 yesterday.

“And never encountered anything like this. I have organised games in Russia, Argentina and even during the political instability in Fiji, but nothing like this has ever happened.”

Both the Cheetahs and Sharks have injury concerns ahead of the Super 14, which starts on February 13.

The Cheetahs‚ Jongi Nokwe (wing), JW Jonker (wing) and Flip van der Merwe (lock) are still injured.

The Sharks have hooker Bismarck du Plessis, Pat Cilliers (prop), Albert van den Berg (lock), Waylon Murray (centre) and Jacques Botes (flank) on the sidelines.

Van Zyl said that two-metre tall lock Johan Snyman had returned from New Zealand and would provide cover for Van den Berg, but wing Henno Mentz, who was not offered a contract, has left for Johannesburg and signed for the Lions.

The Sharks Super 14 squad will be named on February 6, Van Zyl said.

• While the Cheetahs game has still to be confirmed for King’s Park, the Sharks will definitely host the Bulls (5 pm kick-off) on Wednesday, February 4.

The game will be free for 2009 season ticket holders, but they must bring their tickets and suite holders will have to collect their free suite tickets from the Ticket Office.

Tickets for the public will be R20 for adults and R10 for scholars. Seating for the match will be unreserved.

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