DURBAN - Sharks wing Kobus van Wyk has a quaint way of describing the Sharks’ frame of mind after they lost by 50 points to the Rebels in Melbourne three week ago.
He said the players felt like they were down and out and, to quote the wing, “in the gutter”.
“When you look around the change room and you digest that you have been given a hiding by a team you know you should have beaten, the players get as frustrated as the coaches, and you look at each other and decide that enough is enough,” the wing said.
Promising performances in New Zealand followed, but now the Sharks have to kick on and play well at home.
“We want to go to the quarter-finals and take it from there, and the guys are ready to play now,” said Van Wyk.
“Four weeks away from home is always tough on the body and the mind.
“But after struggling in the first two games, we decided to turn it around for the season and stick to our attacking guns. I think we have done that. The guys have been playing well.”
The aim for the Sharks at this stage of the competition is simple, says the wing.
“We want to finish on top of the SA Conference ... that’s our goal. We want to have our destiny in our own hands, and right now we can make the quarter-finals if we play to our potential.”
Next up is a crucial clash against the Bulls in Durban on Saturday.
“I think they’ve been playing very well, throwing the ball out wide. It’s a new-look Bulls side,” Van Wyk said of John Mitchell’s men. “They have flair and I think we can expect anything from them.
It adds up to a cracker of a game. We want to give it a full go and fight our way to a home quarter-final. The Bulls will have the same goals in their sights.
#OurSharks have been hard at work in preparation for their clash against the Vodacom Bulls this weekend. Building on from the tour is a big focus for the team, especially following the confidence taken from our performances in the last two weeks#SHAvBUL #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/qs62Dj67oD
The guys are ready to play at home now, and turn around our home form. They have learned from the pain of losing at the last minute against the Hurricanes. We have grown from that.”
Van Wyk pointed out that the Bulls of 2018 were a different side under John Mitchell.
“They are paying with flair and we can expect anything from them. I think we are similar to the Bulls; both teams are expressing themselves as both forwards and backs; the idea is to keep the ball alive up front, and then keep the offloads going for the backs,” Van Wyk said.
“I think Saturday at Kings Park is going to be a very intriguing affair - top teams playing the same rugby with the intent to score tries,” he concluded.