The Stormers have suffered a massive blow after their co-captain and second-row mainstay Salmaan Moerat injured his knee during the clash against the Bulls at Loftus last weekend.
Stormers coach John Dobson revealed on Wednesday that the Cape side is expected to be without Moerat for between six to eight weeks of the United Rugby Championship.
Moerat damaged his medial collateral ligament (MCL) tissue in his knee, but Dobson reckoned it wouldn't need surgical intervention to get the towering lock back to the fields.
"We scanned Salmaan on Monday; we thought after the game he'd be OK, but he's got a bit of damage to his MCL," said Dobson.
"I'd expect him to be out for a reasonably extended period of at least six weeks to eight weeks. [The injury] happened early in the second half, maybe around 50 minutes.
"We strapped his knee, and then he felt a bit of weakness. It's an MCL, but, at worst, it's a grade 2. There's not a surgical intervention required.
"He is one of those players who beats his schedule when he returns [from injury], so we are hoping to get him back a bit before that."
Dobson said the Stormers had enough in the squad to plug the massive hole Moerat's left, with Adre Smith expected to slot in at No 4, partnering Springbok Marvin Orie in the second row.
The Stormers, who defeated the Bulls last weekend, face the Sharks at Kings Park, who resumed their URC campaign with victory over the Lions at Ellis Park.
"It wasn't the case when we started the URC or during the Currie Cup but, yes, we are very much comfortable with what we've got at lock," Dobson said.
"In a way, we're quite blessed because Adre Smith, to my mind, is a very similar player to Salmaan. Both are capable of calling lineouts, but they are big body movers, they can steal, they carry well, and they just love cleaning rucks.
"It's a like-for-like, similar replacement, and I'm quite excited that Adre gets this opportunity. We think he's going to be a special player in the future."