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'He tried to syringe or use a knife and it created more infection'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

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What happened to Coenie Oosthuizen last Friday to force him to pull out of the Sale XV that was to take on Saracens at home in the Gallagher Premiership sounded like an April Fools’ Day sketch. The Sharks Twitter account reported that the No3 “had dropped out of today’s match after picking up an injury in the warm-up”.

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That didn’t tell the whole story behind his absence, though. The truth was that the 33-year-old former Springboks tighthead had to endure an unexpected night off because of how he reacted to suffering a bite the previous day from an unidentified insect.

It resulted in a load of pus appearing on his leg and rather than seek out medical help at Sale, Oosthuizen decided to take action himself and it resulted in his game-missing mishap. Sharks boss Alex Sanderson wasn’t certain whether the prop had syringed himself or used a knife to go at the pus. 

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Regardless of what implement he used, the net result for the 126kg tighthead was that he infected the bite even more and it left him unable to run on matchday, forcing him to sit it out while Nick Schonert was promoted to start and Joe Jones was hurriedly called up to occupy the bench. 

The upside is that Oosthuizen is now mended ahead of next Saturday’s Sale versus Bristol encounter in the Heineken Champions Cup and his disbelieving boss Sanderson can finally laugh at the strange situation that unfolded ahead of the league loss to Saracens. 

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“He will be over the moon people are interested in his insect bite,” quipped Sanderson about Oosthuizen, who has been at Sale since 2019. “I don’t know (what type of insect). It’s just because it has got warm and we have a few bugs in and around the training ground. We have got an equestrian centre next door do and it might be something from that, might be something from the manure, but I can find out if you like and get back to you.  

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“He got bitten by an insect on Thursday which got infected. The report I got from the doctor on game day was he tried to do something to himself, tried to syringe or maybe took a knife to it to get the puss out himself. In doing so it created more infection and then he couldn’t run the next day and I’m, ‘What are the chances of that?’ At that point there is no point pulling your hair out, you just go, ‘You’ve done it, Nick starts and JJ is on the bench’. 

“He is fine now, running around like a spring chicken. The antibiotics kicked in but it was just the day before game day and he came into game day and he couldn’t run with it. Of all the things that could keep you out, it was an insect bite last week. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Doctor’s pulling hair out, but that is old-school South African mentality, ‘I’ll fix this myself’, but he is good to go now.”

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