at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
The Sharks discovered last week against the Lions that they have sound flyhalf options beyond Patrick Lambie but the coaching staff would nevertheless have been reassured to see the 23-year-old back in training after his illness.
Lambie will be fit to play against the Reds after suspected tick bite fever caused him to be a late withdrawal last week.
Frans Steyn made a decent fist of the No10 jersey, and kicked beautifully for goal, but he had not played in the position for years and there was a degree of disruption to a backline that had been on a upward curve with Lambie at the helm.
“Frans kicked really well and moving him to 10 was our best option given that Fred Zeilinga had played in a Vodacom Match the night before the Lions game,” coach Jake White said. “But in looking at the game, having analysed it from a video point of view, we probably got a lot of the cohesion wrong.
“One of the positives to have really come out of the Lions game is that the players realise how vital Pat is to our game, and how difficult it is to control that position, so there is so much more appreciation from Frans regarding the the difficulty of playing there,” White said.
The coach said that Steyn, by his own admission, was a touch rusty in the position he played at school and at age group level before eventually settling down at inside centre.
“If we’re really critical about it, it took time for Frans to adjust to the new position,” White said. “And that had a rub-on effect on Heimar Williams, who hasn’t played much rugby and had to come in late to take Frans’ place at 12. It was his first full game since the Currie Cup semi-final last year. Putting it in perspective, it obviously was going to take time for the backline to get going.”
Lambie and halfback partner Cobus Reinach will be up against one of the best pairs in the business in Quade Cooper and Will Genia, and they will relish the challenge of containing the innovative Queenslanders.
“The Reds have an exceptional combination at nine and 10, but the Sharks have had quite a good record against the Reds, and the Springboks in the Sharks team have also had a lot of success against the Aussies,” White said. “So as much as Cooper and Genia are a threat and are the focal point of the Reds’ game, we are confident that we should be able to handle them.”
The quality of the Reds team and the entertaining brand of rugby they play makes this game one of the season’s drawcards and the Sharks are hoping for another good crowd.
“My job is simple, I’ve got to get people to the stadium and one way to do that is by playing well and winning,” White said. “And the players are hoping we get even more supporters in this weekend, and an even better vibe. There is no doubt that winning brings in the fans, and them being there in turn helps us win.” - The Star