Durban – Sharks director of rugby Jake White is pleased to have built up a head of steam in the opening weeks of the Super Rugby season and is hoping it continues against the experienced Reds at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The competition leaders have won all three of their games so far – against the Bulls, Hurricanes and Lions – but face possibly their toughest assignment of the season so far when the 2011champions, currently sixth, come to town.
“There is no doubt that the Reds have a lot of experience. They've won the competition and a lot of their current players were in that winning team,” Whites said ahead of the game.
“So they understand what it takes to win and they travel quite well as a group.”
White said the Reds had a quality nine and 10 in Quade Cooper and Will Genia and the Wallaby captain James Horwill leading them.
“They have the makings of a good team and cannot be taken lightly. They have shown that when they beat the Brumbies and Cheetahs.”
White, who was in charge of the Brumbies for two seasons, said he was hoping to make use of his inside knowledge on the Queensland-based visitors.
“I know what makes them tick having coached in Australia and I'm looking forward to that.”
The former Springbok boss hoped to continue their strong start to 2014.
“We start the competition with a number of home games which is great, and we wanted to get some momentum in the competition.
“Everyone knows the guys have worked hard, had a tough pre-season and put the hard yards.
“The guys have had game time and the whole squad is starting to feel that they're contributing to where we are.”
However, White has been forced into making some changes to his side this week. Since naming his side on Thursday, Pieter-Steph du Toit was ruled out of the match with a knee injury sustained at training. He has been replaced by Stephan Lewies.
The Bok lock joined centre Paul Jordaan (knee) and wing Odwa Ndungane (compassionate leave) on the sidelines with S'bura Sithole and JP Pietersen drafted in.
Flyhalf Patrick Lambie is also back after illness as Frans Steyn reverts to midfield.
The Reds, meanwhile, made three changes to their XV with winger Lachie Turner returning after a knee problem ahead of Dom Shipperley.
James Slipper and Saia Fainga'a take over from Ben Daley and James Hanson in the front row. – Sapa