DURBAN – Rugby has never been one for sissies, or those who like to take it easy, and as the Sharks gear up to take on the Lions in an all-important clash in their Super Rugby campaign a week after a gruelling Test series, for 11 of the Sharks players, they have at least been afforded two days off.
The Sharks’ Springboks will have rested yesterday and today before getting into the thick of things in black jerseys for the game at Kings Park against the African log leaders.
It may sound very disruptive - returning from another team and only taking three days to prepare for such a vital clash - but assistant coach Braam van Straaten is not worried.
“It is not that big of a disruption,” the former Springbok flyhalf said. “What has been great is that these guys have been training and they have been in the fold, I think the disruptions come when you have guys that are sitting out and not training at all, and are not playing. So it has been a good thing to have 11 guys at the Springboks, it is a really good thing for us.”
It is one of those double-edged swords really, as there will be some adjusting to be made, but with the Sharks having such a large group picking up national honours, they will also be riding high from what they accomplished.
For the first time in a long time there is optimism and enjoyment surrounding the green and gold jersey, and the Sharks players were integral to a 2-1 series win over England.
The management will be hopeful that a few days’ rest, and the confident energy they have accumulated over the last month, will be able to carry them through the encounter.
Furthermore, as has been a long time coming in South African rugby, there is a push for similarities between the national and provincial teams, and Van Straaten sees that this time around.
“There is quite a few similarities in our play and the Springbok play,” the assistant coach added. “We are direct, and the systems are not exactly the same, but there are similarities.
“Jacques Nienaber has been here to put some things in place that they wanted at the Bok, so there is that overlap. There is some real good synergy, and I think the boys that have not played for some time, they will be nice and fresh and raring to go.”
“The key for the guys that did not go away was to give them a break and to get them fresh,” Van Straaten added.