JOHANNESBURG – Sharks coach Robert du Preez did not beat about the bush when asked about his team’s trip to Singapore to play the Sunwolves, who are something of an unknown quantity at the start of the new Super Rugby season.
“This trip is about going there to get the win, it is about bringing back the points,” Du Preez said yesterday ahead of his team’s departure today for the Far East. You can gather that the Sharks will play no-frills rugby in their season opener on Saturday, which will be played out in stifling heat and humidity.
Even more so than what the Sharks have been experiencing in Durban in pre-season, although the knowledge of the expected conditions means the Sharks are forewarned and will be well prepared.
They know they cannot be expansive when the ball will be like a bar of soap. In short, the Sharks will be treating this match as a smash-and-grab raid on Singapore, and will play conservatively.
“The conditions are not going to be easy, we know about this from Durban in mid-summer,” Du Preez said. “It will be difficult to play rugby. We have do the basics really well, the set pieces have to function well, and we need to be extremely physical.
“If we have to kick the ball... we have to do it. The bottom line is that we have to play the conditions and simply win the game.”
To that end, flyhalf Robert du Preez has been hastened back into the starting lineup because of an injury to Curwin Bosch, who was due to start against the Sunwolves after having spent all of last year’s Super Rugby season at fullback.
Bosch took a knock to his shoulder in the weekend’s friendly against the Bulls in Ballito on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast and has been ruled out of the Sunwolves game.
Co-incidentally, it is a similar situation for the Sharks at inside centre, where Springbok Andre Esterhuizen was due to be rested for Saturday’s game following his recent return from Japan, but an injury to Marius Louw in the superhero match against the Lions means Esterhuizen is starting sooner than planned.
“All the guys know is that the Sunwolves are a good side at home and that they are an unknown entity in that we have seen none of their pre-season warm-ups,”Du Preez said.
“So we know we have to go there and keep it simple, and stick to our basics to beat them,” Du Preez said.@MikeGreenaway67