Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Ox Nche fit again as Sharks stars aim to impress Springbok coach in Rainbow Cup
Share this article:
DURBAN - The Rainbow Cup South Africa competition that kicks off on Saturday will provide highly competitive rugby, reckons Sharks coach Sean Everitt, especially because of the carrot of the looming series against the British & Irish Lions.
Everitt admits that there was disappointment in the ranks after the cancellation of the overseas leg of the Rainbow Cup, but the silver lining to the cloud is that SA rugby can now sharpen its focus on to the much-anticipated visit of the Lions in July.
“International competition is what you want, and if we are patient, hopefully we will get it in October (when the PRO16 is due to start),” Everitt said.
The Rainbow Cup was to be an introductory competition for the SA teams into Europe against the PRO14 sides, and a full-scale PRO16 featuring the same teams is set for late this year.
“We know where we stand now, and I am sure our guys will be highly motivated to impress in Rainbow Cup SA, with the Lions tour not too far around the corner,” Everitt said.
“There is a lot to play for — I know the Sharks guys are going to want to put their hands up, and no doubt it will be the case in all the teams.”
The Rainbow Cup SA features the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls and Lions playing each other home and away in a double round of competition, and Everitt says it will be fierce.
“I think these Saturday double-headers will see all the teams going hammer and tongs,” Everitt said. “All of the teams have done some recruiting and look strengthened (from the Currie Cup). The Stormers (the Sharks’ opposition at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, 2pm kickoff) have consolidated nicely by re-signing key players such as Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, and I think Marvin Orie (from the Lions) is a very good signing. With JD Schickerling, I think they have two very shrewd lineout operators.”
The Sharks have had two matches against the Stormers/Western Province called off because of Covid-19 protocols, and the last match they played was a very tight Currie Cup semi-final, narrowly won by the Sharks.
“It will be very interesting to see what type of game they play against us,” Everitt said “Last year they were primarily a set-piece side, but they used the ball more in the Preparation Series. They have their heavyweight Bok front-row men back now, so maybe they will go back to a set-piece game.”
Everitt said that last week’s called off Rainbow Cup clash against the same team had been a frustration, but had allowed some of his players to get over their niggles. “The extra week off has given (loosehead prop) Ox Nche and (No 8) Sikhumbuzo Notshe the chance to get over ankle problems they picked up against the Bulls (in the final Preparation Series match),” Everitt said.