Sharks No.8 Ryan Kankowski has had to undergo surgery on the thumb that he broke against the Bulls last week and will be out of action for the next month, leaving his team with a back row puzzle to solve.
Sharks coach John Plumtree had been hopeful that Kankowski would recover from the injury in time to take his place in the starting line-up in the match against the Stormers this weekend, but willl have to do without the dynamic No.8 at Newlands.
Kankowski went for a scan on the thumb on Tuesday, and Beeld has reported that he was forced to undergo surgery on Wednesday morning which has sidelined him for four weeks, leaving Plumtree with an interesting loose trio selection dilemma.
Willem Alberts has been out since the Currie Cup Final last year and only returned to full-contact training this week so the Sharks boss was hoping to ease him back into action, but he may be forced to rush the imposing loose forward back sooner than planned after the loss of Kankowski.
Young flank Marcell Coetzee can also play at the back of the scrum, but the challenge for Plumtree will be to fashion a balanced loose trio from the options currently available which include Jacques Botes and skipper Keegan Daniel.
There are fears that the Sharks could be left a bit light in the back row, especially as Plumtree has targeted a lift in intesnity at the breakdown as a key area that his team must improve in this weekend.
With Daniel, Coetzee and Alberts all possibilities to fill the void left by Kankowski at No.8, the pressure is on Plumtree to come up with a creative solution to ensure that his loose trio is able to provide the physicality that was missing from their game last week.
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