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Daunting tour for Sharks

Taking advantage of the weekend's bye in Investec Super Rugby, the Sharks left South Africa on Saturday for their daunting Australasian tour that opens against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.

It is a demanding tour as they are also set to face the Hurricanes and Waratahs before finishing against the Reds.

Battling through the recent stages of the campaign the Sharks face a battle to regain the top of the table in the South African conference. At the moment they are fourth of the South African sides and are 10th on the overall ladder.

Coach Gary Gold said on the Sharks website before the team left: "Tours are funny things, I've seen teams in far worse positions than us fight to get back and I'm not giving up the fight in any way, shape or form.

"I'm keen to work with these guys in adverse times – that's when you see true warriors come out.

"That's our challenge. We are down but we're not out and now is the time to stand up and fight back. If we come back fighting in the last six games, we'll salvage a lot of respect," he said.

Missing from the squad are Patrick Lambie, Ryan Kankowski, Pieter-Steph du Toit, SP Marais, Tera Mtembu and Paul Jordaan through injury while Jean Deysel is still under suspension.

Frans Steyn won't be available for the opening game against the Highlanders as he completes his suspension but returning to bolster the side will be Bismarck du Plessis and JP Pietersen while Stephan Lewies is set to make his first appearances for the side this year after recovering from surgery on a shoulder and a knee.

Gold told the Sunday Tribune: "My selection was based on who is fit and healthy, but the nice thing is that there are a lot of guys who can play in different positions.

"We are looking forward to this tour."