Sharks say au revoir to Fred Michalak

2008-04-27 00:00

Fred Michalak has played his last match for the Sharks after confirmation that he has torn ligaments in his knee in a freak injury sustained in the 25-10 Super 14 loss to the Waratahs on Saturday night.

Scans showed damage to the ligaments that will in all likelihood keep him out of action for the next six months or more. Yesterday morning, when the team departed from Sydney en route to Christchurch ahead of Friday’s last match on tour against the Crusaders, the players bid an emotional farewell to their team-mate who will return to France.

"We’re really disappointed to lose Fred," admitted coach Dick Muir. "He was going to stick around and play for us in the Currie Cup and then return home to play for France in their end of year tour, if selected.

"He’s grown to be one of us, he’s really enjoyed it at the Sharks and we’ve enjoyed having him. He’s added a lot of value to our squad, so it’s really sad that he is leaving us."

The Sharks also lost their captain and Bok lock Johann Muller to an injury shortly before kick-off, but Muir said there were no excuses and he praised the Waratahs.

"I think credit must be passed where it is due. I think they played exceptionally well, particularly at the breakdown where they bullied us and where they managed to turn over a lot of possession in the second half. In the first half, I thought we were a law unto ourselves … we kicked away too much possession."

Having slipped to third on the log, the Sharks must now prove that they have the ability to rise from the setback of two consecutive losses.

"This is a true test, it’s huge," Muir said. "We have the character, we have a good bunch of blokes, great management and we’ll need to bounce back. The Crusaders are unbeaten at home, they’re setting the pace in the tournament so it will be a massive challenge for us."

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