Robert du Preez
DURBAN - The usually taciturn Robert du Preez cracked a sardonic grin when he brusquely answered the question as to how his players could avoid falling foul of TMO officials: “We have to tackle lower! It is as simple as that!”

The Sharks host the Jaguares on Saturday (3pm) and the Sharks coach said the message to the players was to improve their discipline and efficiency on defence by avoiding the contentious shoulder area altogether.

The intimation is that the best way to avoid pedantic and potentially match-changing decisions by TMOs is to take the officials out of the equation.

“We really have to be more vigilant in this area,” Du Preez said. “We should not be giving away so many penalties. The very clear instruction to the guys is to get their body position lower in the tackle.”

Against the Lions, the Sharks had lock Etienne Oosthuizen yellow carded for two marginal high tackles and a try disallowed when fellow lock Ruan Botha was spotted by the TMO handling a Lions player around the neck in the build-up to a try, which was consequently disallowed.

Botha, the former Western Province lock, moves to the bench this week in a rotational switch with one-cap Springbok Stephan Lewies, who was on the bench last week.

In the change to the tight five, Tendai Mtawarira resumes at loosehead prop at the expense of Thomas du Toit. The Beast was given compassionate leave last week because of the death of his grandmother.

On the bench, there is the pleasing presence of Philip van der Walt, the industrious loose forward who has been out of action because of a jaw injury.

“It is fantastic to have Philip back, he is chomping at the bit to play,” Du Preez said. “Jacques Vermeulen (the SA Under-20 flank) is unlucky to lose out. He did nothing wrong but Philip is such a quality player.”

Former Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is another over his injury and has been named among the replacements.

Du Preez said his players had not had the opportunity to dwell on the disappointment of losing to the Lions, mostly because the majority of them were immediately on duty at the Springbok training camp.

“On the Sunday morning after the game, 13 of the guys went to the Bok camp in Stellenbosch. That has meant a bit of a disruptive week but it is a great privilege for 13 of our guys to be recognised and they came back (on Wednesday) in good spirit and not too fatigued. They will be fresh (for Saturday),” the coach said.

There is obvious pressure on the Sharks to win this home game against a team that is tie with them on the log on 18 points in Africa Group 2 but Du Preez is adamant his team will not go into their shell.

“I want the guys to go out and play. We are making some good progress with our attacking game,” Du Preez said. “I don’t want the guys to hold back. We had a very good training session today, there is a great spirit in camp and we must take that onto the field. We don’t want to disappoint our fans here at Kings Park.”

Du Preez said he was pleased with the physicality his forwards showed against the Lions and there can be no slacking off on Saturday.

“We are going to need that (physicality) against the Jaguares. This game is going to be massive in terms of physical confrontation. It is a full-blown Test team we are playing against. I think it is just the scrumhalf that is uncapped.

“The Jaguares have improved hugely from last season, they are playing more like the Pumas. They have certainly stepped up.”


Garth April, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, André Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Curwin Bosch, Cobus Reinach, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Tera Mtembu (capt), Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Beast Mtawarira; REPLACEMENTS: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Ruan Botha, Philip van der Walt, Michael Claassens, Inny Radebe, Jeremy Ward

The Mercury