Sharks coach Sean Everitt acknowledges the possibility of squad depth being seriously tested during the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup seasons as a result of coronavirus exposures.
The Lions confirmed on Thursday that they have nine players unavailable for this weekend's clash against the Cheetahs due to coronavirus exposures and protocols - four of their players have tested positive - while the Stormers also had to leave out Steven Kitshoff and Scarra Ntubeni for their trip to Nelspruit to take on the Pumas on Friday night.
With this just the third round of competition since Super Rugby Unlocked began, it is beginning to look like the strict safety measures surrounding the tournament will have more of a say than perhaps initially expected.
The Sharks, who had a bye last weekend, have been unscathed so far but Everitt is fully aware of the possibilities that exist.
"I wouldn't say it's inevitable, but there's a good chance of it happening as we have seen with teams that have been affected over the last four weeks," Everitt said on Thursday, shortly after naming his team to take on the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.
"I think it's something that we've got to accept could be the case and that's why we need to be proactive about it and prepare in advance.
"It's important. You never know when Covid can strike you down.
"We've been fortunate over the last six weeks that we've had a clean slate, especially in the senior group.
"Bearing that in mind, we have to be prepared and we've got a good squad. It helps that the juniors have finished their competition and we do have plans in place should unfortunate circumstances."
The Sharks secured a 19-16 win over the Lions in their opening fixture, while the Bulls were 30-23 winners over Griquas before going down 19-17 to the Cheetahs last weekend.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 19:00.
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Yaw Penxe