DURBAN - Nothing the Sharks have produced so far this Super Rugby campaign will suffice if they are to beat the trend-setting Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday, reckons forwards coach Jaco Pienaar.
Pienaar, who has come to Durban this season from Potchefstroom at the behest of coach Robert du Preez, says his charges are under no illusions as to the challenge ahead at Ellis Park.
“We are still searching for an 80-minute performance,” Pienaar said. “Playing well for periods has got us over the finishing line in four of five games but a team as good as the Lions will put us away if we don’t play well for the whole game. We can’t get away with playing in patches.”
Pienaar was pleased, though, that his forwards fronted up in Bloemfontein last week and ultimately paved the way for flyhalf Curwin Bosch to kick them to victory over the Cheetahs.
But they won’t win this week with an up-and-down performance against last season’s finalists.
“We were much better up front against the Cheetahs after a disappointing display against the Kings, who we let into the match by not taking the game to them in the first half (and it almost cost the Sharks’ the match),” Pienaar admitted.
“We wanted a big one from the forwards and they delivered, and now we have to go up another level,” the former Leopards coach said. “We know what to expect from the Lions pack. They are very well drilled. You can see it in the way they maul as a unit, and in their set pieces. We are certainly doing our homework.”
One of the unsung heroes in the Sharks pack of late is flank Jacques Vermeulen, the 22-year-old that played SA Schools in 2013 and for SA Under 20 in 2014 and 2015.
“Jacques is a quality player and South African rugby is going to see a lot more of him,” Pienaar said of the Paarl Gimnasium product.
Vermeulen played 12 Currie Cup matches for Western Province before being recruited by the Sharks.
On the injury front, the Sharks are hoping to have hooker Franco Marais back from injury this week.