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Durban - He has had a tough year with injuries, but Sharks centre Jeremy Ward has made an impressive start to the 2018 Currie Cup

Still just 22-years-old, Ward fractured his hand in Super Rugby season back in February and required surgery. 

The result was that he was out of action for nearly three months. 

While Ward was out, Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen - the current Springbok centre pairing - were impressing in the Sharks midfield. 

When ward returned, he had to be content with a spot in the SuperSport Challenge set-up. 

Now, with Am and Esterhuizen both on Springbok duty, Ward is getting a chance to flex his muscles in the Currie Cup. 

He can play at both inside and outside centre, but he has been given the No 13 jersey by coach Robert du Preez as the Sharks have secured two wins from two. 

"It wasn't the ideal start to my year getting injured a week before Super Rugby started, so missing the first 10 weeks was never going to be easy," Ward said in Durban on Tuesday ahead of the Sharks' clash against the Pumas this weekend.

"For me it was all about shifting my mindset and making sure I came back a better, fitter and stronger player. It gave me a nice opportunity to work on my weaknesses."

The Sharks beat the Free State Cheetahs 33-29 in Bloemfontein last weekend while, the week before, they beat the Blue Bulls 26-10 in Durban. 

Ward's opposite number in that match was Springbok Jesse Kriel, who is expected to start Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against Australia in Brisbane.

"I love testing myself against the best and Jesse Kriel is one of the best," Ward said.

"It was great to be able to put myself in that situation. It was good to be on the field and you live for those moments.

"I'm definitely taking on a lot more responsibility in the backline and delivering messages to Rob at No 10 and the wings. I'm enjoying it and I feel I play better when I have that responsibility."

Kick-off on Friday is at 19:00

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