The Sharks have been dealt a major injury blow, with Springbok Tendai Mtawarira forced to return home from New Zealand due to a knee injury.

With the veteran prop unavailable, coach Rob Du Preez has been forced to move Thomas Du Toit to loosehead while Coenie Oosthuizen starts at tighthead for their clash against the Crusaders this Friday.

Elsewhere, Ruan Botha returns at lock while scrumhalf and captain Louis Schreuder also makes a comeback. Du Preez is disappointed to lose the services of Mtawarira.

Despite the recent struggles, the Sharks victory over the Waratahs in Sydney saw them move to second on the overall Super Rugby log. The Crusaders sit on top, 13 points clear of the Durban outfit.

They dismantled the Lions to win 36-10 last weekend, for their eighth win of the campaign. Du Preez says they are happy to wear the underdog tag.

Du Preez is hoping their victory last week will help create a bit of consistency.

The Sharks left South Africa under a cloud of criticism after they lost two home games in a row to the Jaguares and the Reds respectively.

Du Preez says they are undeterred by negative comments in social and mainstream media. – Report by┬áThahir Asmal