Durban – Sharks captain Jacques Botes has credited the new coaching staff for the way they control their team selection process and said it was one of the reasons they were thriving this season.
The coastal side are currently top of the Currie Cup standings having won their past three games following their shocking start to the competition, which began with a surprise home loss to Griquas at the start of last month.
That loss raised many questions over the Brendan Venter-led coaching era.
“One of the good things that came out of the new coaching philosophy is that there is a rotation process, we all know upfront exactly where we stand, when we’re going to play, what’s expected of us,” Botes said on Tuesday.
“It’s not just a 22-man game, but a squad game, using 35 or 40 guys, or hopefully not that many.
“Ultimately, during the tournament we hope to use 30 to 32 players and everyone will get a go and an opportunity to stake a claim for a starting spot.”
Botes, who has taken over the armband from Keegan Daniel, also revealed that jostling for positions in the team was now rife.
“That kind of competition is excellent because it brings out the best in each individual, you can’t rest on your laurels and it’s the right way forward in the professional game, to make sure there is enough depth and quality back-up in case of injury or loss of form,” he said.
Since that initial loss at Kings Park, the Sharks have beaten the Golden Lions, Free State Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls ahead of their final first round meeting with Western Province in Cape Town this week.
Botes revealed that the win over the Cheetahs in particular had been vital to their season so far.
“We have enjoyed a nice string of victories, that always builds momentum and the guys have taken a lot of confidence out of that,” he said.
“We especially took a lot of confidence out of that Cheetahs win away and we were very happy about the four tries in our win over the Blue Bulls last weekend.
“But we know we have a massive task this weekend against Province down in Cape Town.”
Botes said the team's set-pieces were one area which still needed improvement in their play.
“With a new coaching set-up and a fairly new team, there are many things we’re working on.
“Some of our play has been really good, at times our defence has been very good, but in saying that, there is always room for improvement.”
Meanwhile, it was confirmed that Odwa Ndungane suffered a recurrence to a hamstring injury he had sustained earlier in the competition and would miss the trip to the Cape.
Tim Whitehead, however was fit again after a rib problem. – Sapa