DURBAN – It may only be one game into the season for the Sharks, but this match today at 3.05pm against the Waratahs could quite easily set them up for how the rest of the competition goes.
It is safe to say the loss to the Lions was a disappointing one, and the last thing the Sharks need is two losses on the trot – especially after a bye – as it could be devastating for the confidence of a young and promising side.
Not only is a win needed to confirm the Sharks are on the right path, it is also the first home game, and one of two in a fortnight, before a tough tour looms.
The Waratahs will be a challenge, before the Japanese are in town the following week.
The tour sees the Sharks facing the Brumbies and Rebels in Australia, before a short flight to Auckland to face the Blues in New Zealand. Of course, the Sharks will be aware of what looms, but their focus is getting match ready after a bye in the second week.
“Saturday will be big and we want to have a great performance,” Coach Robert du Preez said in naming his team.
“But, having said that, we are taking 27 guys on tour but we have a game for the guys who are not involved this weekend, so that is an opportunity to play themselves into the squad for Australia and New Zealand.
“There has been such good competition in the squad, so hopefully the guys who do get the chance this weekend will cement their place in the squad.”
There is an expectation on the Sharks to overturn the Waratahs, especially at home, and especially seeing as they just snuck a win in Sydney against the Stormers, but Du Preez has warned that they are a world-class side.
“I haven’t seen too many weaknesses with the Waratahs,” Du Preez admitted.
“They are a team that has improved a lot since last year. They have guys that are full of X-factor, so it will be a tough encounter, and it is always tough against them.”
With the Waratahs boasting backline talent like Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau, some of the younger members in black will be up for a real test.
“That is what this competition is all about, being tested against the best players in the world, and they certainly have a few of those in their team,” Du Preez added.
Coming back from a bye, the Sharks may have had their flow disrupted, but the coach admits that they used the opportunity well to work on a few things, and get rid of some flu and niggles.
Prop Tendai Mtawarira also echoed these sentiments stating there is a real drive to right the scrumming woes from Johannesburg.
“We were not happy with our performance against the Lions,” Mtawarira said openly.
“It was substandard, but the guys have been working hard on it this past week, we just went back to basics, and made sure we have cohesion in the pack, and it is something we want to rectify, something we are taking very personally.”