Durban — The Sharks will be without veteran Ruan Pienaar when they resume their United Rugby Championship campaign — on 22 January against the Lions in Johannesburg — but the good news is that a trio of Springbok scrumhalves is fit and able to replace him.
The 37-year-old Pienaar has completed his loan time with the Sharks and is back at the Cheetahs and will feature for them in Saturday’s Currie Cup match against Griquas, but offsetting this is the news that Jaden Hendrikse is well over the serious ankle injury he sustained playing for the Boks against Argentina; fellow Bok Grant Williams is back in the fold after travelling with the Boks last year; and Sanele Nohamba is raring to go.
Pienaar was always a loan deal from the Cheetahs and while the Sharks certainly benefited from having this ultimate professional on board for their maiden foray into European competition last November, they have an abundance of quality to take over from him.
The Sharks have also had a change in their coaching staff. Northern Irishman John McFarland, who had been heading up defence on a short-term contract, has departed after a short but effective stay which saw the Sharks’ defence improve substantially on their four-match tour of the UK and Ireland in the URC.
McFarland, the defence coach at the Boks when Heyneke Meyer was in charge, has rejoined Meyer who now heads the Houston Sabrecats in the USA’s Major Rugby League.
The structures the world-renowned McFarland put in place will now be overseen by Warren Whiteley, the former Springbok captain who late last year returned to his roots in Durban after much success as a player at the Lions.
Whiteley was appointed as the Sharks’ lineout coach and he will also take on the defence responsibilities until Neil Powell joins the Sharks later in the year.
The Blitzboks coach has signed as defence coach for the Sharks and will move to the Shark Tank after the Sevens World Cup in Cape Town in September.
Meanwhile, the Sharks begin their Currie Cup campaign on Wednesday next week when they host Griquas at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.
The 2022 Currie Cup and the URC will be played concurrently.