Durban – Sharks director of rugby Jake White insists having one of the best squads in Super Rugby means little if his team cannot transfer the weight of expectancy into results.
The Durban franchise will kick off the 2014 competition this weekend as one of the favourites considering the large number of Springboks on their books, coupled by the addition of the former national coach during the off season.
“One thing I've chatted to the players about is reputations,” 2007 World Cup-winner White said.
“Reputations mean nothing, it doesn't matter what people think and it doesn't matter how many Springboks you have, you're not going to win with reputations.
“I'm not trying to play down the fact that we have a talented squad Ä we have, but the challenge is making sure that everything is aligned.
White on Tuesday announced a 39-man squad for the southern hemisphere's premier club competition, which they kick-off against three-time champions the Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday.
There are over 15 Springboks on the list, who are mixed with young talents like Andre Esterhuizen and Tyler Fisher.
“I'm very happy with the depth we have here,” White said.
“The talent here is phenomenal and I can compare apples with apples.
“Comparing a side like the Brumbies (his former team) who came second last year, to a franchise like the Sharks, I can say that there is unbelievable talent here...from 19-year-olds right up to Springboks.”
The Sharks have never won the title, although they have four runners-up medals.
White admits they will be in unfamiliar territory as one of the competition favourites.
“It's unique for this group and not many South African sides get given the favourites' tag,” he said.
“In fact, in a lot of ways, South Africans like to be the under-dog, both internationally as well as at a franchise level. That's just the way it is.”
The Sharks squad for the 2014 Super Rugby season: Lourens Adriaanse, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Dale Chadwick, Marcell Coetzee, Kyle Cooper, Tonderai Chavhanga, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Bismarck du Plessis (captain), Jannie du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Thomas du Toit, Andre Esterhuizen, Tyler Fisher, Hansie Graaf, Monde Hadebe, Paul Jordaan, Ryan Kankowski, Patrick Lambie, Stephan Lewies, Peet Marais, SP Marais, Charl McLeod, Tendai Mtawarira, Tera Mtembu, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, Etienne Oosthuizen, JP Pietersen, Cobus Reinach, S'bura Sithole, Francois Steyn, Tim Swiel, Stefan Ungerer, Jaco van Tonder, Heimar Williams, Fred Zeilinga. – Sapa