Assistant Sharks coach Grant Bashford admits this week's Springbok training camp, in the midst of their Super Rugby campaign, has been a "disruption" as they prepare for another crucial derby at the weekend.
The Durban franchise had been without 13 of their players since the weekend after they were summoned to a national training camp by coach Heyneke Meyer. The group was scheduled to return later on Tuesday.
"Our preparations are quite disrupted with our Boks being away at the Springbok training camp," said Bashford.
"So we're going to have to prepare later in the week."
The Sharks face the Cheetahs at Kings Park on Saturday with defeat set to relegate them from the top spot they have held in the South African conference since the start of the season.
John Plumtree's men have also been beset by injuries, with several of their senior men like Bismarck du Plessis (knee), Willem Alberts (shoulder), Butch James (knee), Louis Ludik (shoulder), Tim Whitehead (hand), Jacques Botes (hand) and Lwazi Mvovo (hand) all out.
"We've been really unlucky with injuries and unfortunately they have been long term - not like gone today and back tomorrow, but weeks and months," added Bashford.
"So we have been stretched thinner than we would have liked."
The Sharks will head into their weekend tussle with the Free Staters on the back of a disappointing 22-15 loss to the Stormers, a result that prevented them from climbing to second in the overall standings.
The Cheetahs themselves will travel to KwaZulu-Natal on the back of a loss after their five-match winning streak was ended by the Bulls in Pretoria.
"The Cheetahs were full of confidence going into their game and will be bitterly disappointed to have lost," said Bashford.
"That makes this weekend even more important for them."
This will be the Sharks' final match before they depart for their four-match tour of Australia and New Zealand, and Bashford felt that a victory was important for confidence on the overseas leg of the competition.
"It's always nice to get on the aeroplane with a win under the belt," he said.
"It sets the tone nicely for the tour, but right now all we can do is get our preparation right.
"We know how to prepare for the Cheetahs, we know their strengths and certainly what we can expect from them and from our side.
"It's about making sure we do our things right and hopefully the rest will take care of itself."