Durban – After questions were raised about their bench Sharks forward Tendai Mtawarira insists they have the necessary depth to challenge for Super Rugby honours.
The Durban franchise beat the Lions 37-23 on Saturday to move top of the competition standings, although they struggled to assert any dominance in the second half with their replacements in play.
Director of rugby Jake White shouldered some of the blame, saying he made changes too early and Mtawarira felt it was something which would improve.
“We've got great depth and it's something you'll see more as the season progresses,” he said.
“We have guys who are not even playing that can contribute a lot to the team Ä like Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes Ä so I think we've got depth.”
JP Pietersen also returned to duty on Tuesday after a spell in Japan.
Springbok prop Mtawarira said the season had gone according to plan with the Sharks having won three out of three with two bonus points.
“We've been working very hard every week and we've had the rewards so far,” he said.
“A lot of the guys have come of age and we've now got that experience on our side. You can hear on the field that everybody is talking and it's really great to have that.”
The 28-year-old said White had made a definite impact in his first year in charge.
“Jake has a certain way he wants to play. I think he's a very clever man and knows exactly what he's doing.
“For us it's been a good change and one we're really enjoying. We're playing a brand of rugby that everyone is liking.”
He also felt the pre-tournament favourites had not yet hit peak level.
“You can feel the confidence is growing. We're not even playing to our full potential yet, so every player has to keep on working hard to get there.
“Jake is very good at getting that out of players, so I'm sure there'll be further improvements as the season continues.”
The Sharks face 2011 champions, Australian side the Reds, in Durban this weekend.
Patrick Lambie is expected to be fit again after withdrawing at the last minute against the Lions due to illness.
However, they will be without Odwa Ndungane as the veteran winger has been granted compassionate leave. – Sapa