Sharks dealt setback as Springboks star to miss Challenge Cup final

Adam Kyriacou
Sharks players and a snippet of Lukhanyo Am.

The Sharks skipper is set to miss the Challenge Cup final.

The Sharks will be without the services of star Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am for Friday’s Challenge Cup final against Gloucester at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 30-year-old double Rugby World Cup winner suffered an injury against Benetton in Durban on May 11 and was withdrawn from the action late in the first half.

According to reports the centre is struggling with a shoulder and rib issue and sat out their recent United Rugby Championship match against Cardiff last weekend.

Am ruled out

It was hoped by Sharks fans that the recovery time would result in Am being named in the team for Friday’s showdown with Gloucester, however, that will not happen.

“Am is going to be out for a while,” Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell told IOL in a media update on Tuesday. “I’m not sure about the extent of the injury.”

“It’s always a big loss to not have your national players and also your captain. Lukhanyo has been really good for us this season. In knockout games, you want your senior players to be available. So it is a bit of a big loss for us.”

It’s likely that Ethan Hooker will fill in for the Springboks centre in London as the Sharks look to pick up some European silverware after a dismal URC campaign.

“I think we have capable replacements. Ethan Hooker has done well to put up his hand and show that he can play at this level,” Powell said ahead of the match.

Powell also confirmed that Springboks scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse will also miss out due to injury but lock Eben Etzebeth and prop Vincent Koch are available.

Poor URC form

The Sharks have lost 13 games out of 17 in the United Rugby Championship this season but have found success in the Challenge Cup en route to making the final.

Their opponents, Gloucester, are in a similar position as their league form in the Premiership this season has seen them lose 13 in 18 matches to finish second last.

Victory on Friday would hand the winner qualification for the coveted Champions Cup next term, which means there’s much more to play for than just silverware.

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