DURBAN - The Sharks’ dramatic loss to the Lions at Ellis Park earlier this season still rankles with the Durbanites and they are determined to set the record straight in the return fixture after having lost 34-29 in a game full of controversy.
Neutral observers would have suggested that the Sharks deserved to win on balance of play but a series of TMO decisions went against them and two tries were disallowed because of marginal infringements spotted by the officials in the build-up to the scores.
That game was played on April 1, but to this day the Sharks have not seen anything remotely amusing about what transpired.
Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach on Tuesday stopped short of using the word “revenge” and instead tactfully said: “We have been looking forward to this game for some time, especially after what happened at Ellis Park where we felt we should have won, so we are definitely excited about this one.”
“In that game in Johannesburg it did not work out. That is rugby. Sometimes things are out of your hands but hopefully we can put in a great performance and it will go our way this time,” the 27-year-old said.
Reinach has had his fair share of disappointment in recent years, notably when he was left out of the 2015 World Cup squad after having been the No 1 choice scrumhalf the year before.
The son of former Springbok wing Jaco Reinach, he has played 9 Tests but has been out of favour since the 2014 season. It is possible this has something to do with his decision to move to the Northampton Saints and Saturday will be his last home game for a Sharks franchise he joined after finishing school at Grey College in Bloemfontein.
He would no doubt love nothing more than a rousing team performance and a famous victory, although he diplomatically adds: “It is not about me, it is about the team. It is always that way at the Sharks.”
Reinach is renowned for his competitive approach to the game and it was almost through clenched teeth that he admitted that the Sharks are the underdogs for the highly anticipated encounter.
“The Lions are playing great rugby and are top of the log, so it would seem the odds are in their favour but in rugby anything can happen on the day, and we could have taken the first one and hopefully this week it will be our turn,” Reinach said. “But not one of us is under any illusions as to how tough it is going to be.
"The Lions are very confident and they now have a number of (new) Springboks who will have returned to them full of confidence (after the triumphant series against France).”
Reinach would never admit it but surely he would like to show the national coaching staff what they are missing, especially because he is playing against the incumbent Bok No 9.
With a smile Reinach said: “Ross Cronje and I go back a long way. He was here at the Sharks in his early career. We know each other very well. Look, it is going to be a lekker game and I am not going to try and prove a point. I am just going to try and play my best and if it is good enough, it is good enough.”
How Reinach performs will be influenced by what plays out in front of him in what promises to be a brutal forward battle.
Reinach raised his eyebrows and said: “I think we are going to see fire meeting fire. I am excited to see what happens. Fortunately for us backs the forwards do what they do and then we get on with moving the ball. But hopefully we can bring our physicality and dominate where we can.
“This is a game where anything can happen. We have been training with high intensity and you can be sure that we will leave everything on the field,” the scrumhalf promised.