There has been much talk about a new, expansive game plan that the Sharks aim to play in the Currie Cup, and if it indeed comes to fruition there will no greater beneficiary than explosive centre S’bura Sithole.
The Sharks want to play a wide game to suit their strength – a pacy, young backline – but after four rounds of the competition they have still to get it right because basic errors in each of the games have stalled momentum.
In short, the coaching staff want to get the ball into the hands of the likes of Sithole as often as possible. He will be a grateful recipient.
“It’s not like there has been anything wrong with our attack, it’s just that we are not executing the way we would have liked to,” the 24-year-old says. “The focus will remain the same – we want to keep playing the same (attacking) way we have, just better.”
Sithole, who was called up to the Springbok training camp in Durban in May, says the team’s focus ahead of Saturday’s Griquas game is to fix the elementary mistakes that gifted the Pumas so much counter-attacking ball in their victory in Nelspruit.
“We have to fix the things we did badly against the Pumas, we can’t carry on making silly mistakes,” he says. “Our handling, our defence and a little bit of our set-piece (the line-outs) weren’t at a level we aim for. So we want to get better as a group.
“Having such a young group means it’s just the small things we need to work on, nothing major where we would need a complete restructuring,” Sithole continued. “The individual players know what they’ve done wrong, the coaches have done their analysis and everyone is on the same page with regards to what needs to be done. We want to improve as a team as the competition goes on, we don’t want to go backwards. As a group we’re motivated and ready for this game.”
Scoring tries is obviously high on the agenda given the game the Sharks want to play, and Sithole is hopeful that as the team gets used to the strategy, the tries will come.
“Bonus points are very important, they might get you to the semis, or be the difference between a home semi or final and having to play away,” he says.
“The guys are trying their best, but we do want to win the game first before we chase try-scoring bonus points.
“Some of the attacking opportunities we’ve missed this season have been down to small things, and as the season progresses, hopefully those passes will go to hand and we’ll score more tries,” he added.
Sithole, a former Sevens Springbok, has been given an extended run at 13 in the Currie Cup after having been in and out of the team in Super Rugby and also utilised as a wing.
“It’s feeling good playing at outside centre, it’s been an opportunity to increase my skill set playing at 13 instead of wing. I’m more involved in the game, making more decisions and getting my hands on the ball more often,” the Queens College old boy said. “It’s good for me and I’m really enjoying my rugby.”
One of his responsibilities at 13 is marshalling the defence.
“My main objective at 13 is controlling the defence and it’s a role I enjoy. Defence has always been something I enjoy. I had a good Super Rugby season on defence, but I’d like to always be improving in that area. I’m also looking to step up my work rate in the Currie Cup.” - The Star