Durban – Assistant Sharks coach Sean Everitt feels Griquas may be licking their lips at the prospect of facing the wounded defending champions when the two side's clash in their Currie Cup showdown in Durban on Saturday.
The coastal side were stunned 32-22 by the Pumas last week, a result which pushed them down to fourth on the table ahead of the halfway mark of the regular season this weekend.
Last season, Griquas caused a major upset when they beat the Sharks 32-30 at Kings Park and Everitt admitted their opponents, currently seventh on the table, would arrive with plenty of optimism.
“The Sharks don't have the greatest record against Griquas. We lost at home to them last year, but we rectified that when we played them away and beat them earlier this season,” Everitt said.
“They always get their tails up when they play us and they'll see an opportunity to put one over us again.”
Griquas can draw further confidence from the fact that this year's Sharks were far weaker than 12 months ago. The starting XV from that clash included Lwazi Mvovo, Butch James and Jean Deysel, to name just a few of their experienced campaigners from 2013.
“Without the Springboks, I think all teams are more or less on a par at this stage,” Everitt said.
“Every week is a test, and whether we play the Bulls, WP or the Pumas it's all the same. We're all in the same boat.”
The Sharks were caught short at the set-piece last week and were also poor on defence, two areas they will be hoping to improve on this week.
Everitt said they needed to go back to the basics and focus on themselves, rather than their opponents from the Northern Cape.
“For us, we just have to make sure we do things right. It's about concentrating on what we need to do to get better. We're not going to worry too much about the opposition.
“We don't feel we're that far off. There are quite a few guys here that are either in their first or second year of the Currie Cup. The more they play, the better they'll get. It's up to them to step up and show they're worthy of a place in Super Rugby next year.”
Sharks head coach Brad Macleod-Henderson reacted to the Pumas loss by making six changes to his starting XV with fullback Jaco van Tonder, centre Heimar Williams, locks Wiehan Hay and Stephan Lewies as well as props Lourens Adriaanse and Thomas du Toit all drafted in.
Griquas, meanwhile, had made three changes to their line-up as Hilton Lobberts, Gouws Prinsloo and Doppies la Grange all start.
And coach Hawies Fourie, whose side were winless so far, was well aware of the importance of a result in Durban.
“We need to beat the Sharks, not to reach the knockout stages, but to be in a position later where we are sure of our spot in next year's competition,” he said. – Sapa