DURBAN – It takes a lot to get the irrepressible Dick Muir down, not even a few Sharks set scrums in reverse gear, and the ebullient backline coach says the Sharks will snap back from their seven-point Super Rugby loss to the Lions at the weekend
The Sharks looked dangerous every time they attacked and defended strongly but suffered some notable tight piece malfunctions that were probably the difference between them winning and losing.
Muir, not one for smokescreens when something obvious requires comment, said the following: “To be in the race right at the death after having been annihilated at times up front, says something about the character and talent in this team.
“There were so many positives in our play, and then in the final quarter we had a player like flyhalf Curwin Bosch come on and show how electrifying he can be.
“If it wasn’t for the set scrums and the driving mauls, we were on top in so many facets of that game,” Muir added. “And if we had got better scrum ball, we would have had better attacking momentum for a backline that is not short on belief that it can score points.”
Flyhalf Robert du Preez controlled the game well and in taking the ball aggressively to the line he put his team on attack, and his direct play was rewarded with a try for himself when he took flat ball at pace near the Lions’ line.
“We are not far off getting it right from a team perspective,” Muir said. “Yes we knew that Thomas du Toit would be targeted by the Lions after his move to a new position at tighthead prop. Making the positional switch to tighthead is difficult and the only way to improve is to play more in the position. Yes we did expect the Lions would pressure on him but we did not think the results would be as serious as they turned out to be.”
Muir admitted that every team playing the Sharks will now target their tighthead prop but he says that it is prompting the coaching staff to work ever harder in getting Du Toit equipped for the position.
The underlying problem, of course, is that the Sharks’ first-choice tighthead prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, suffered a serious ankle injury playing for the Boks against Ireland last November.
At best, he will play for the Sharks should they make the play-offs.
Thus Du Toit at tighthead is being seen as a long-term remedy.
In better news, Keegan Daniel, who withdrew from the Lions game because of a minor ailment, a stomach bug, is fit again, while his replacement against the Lions, Dan du Preez, went off with a shoulder strain that should be a thing of the past when the Sharks host the Waratahs in their next game, a home fixture on March 3 against the Waratahs.