DURBAN – The Sharks are a side that is chock full of exciting talent, but much of it is quite raw. That means in a competition as vigorous and intense as Super Rugby there is a lot of learning that needs to be done on the fly.
The Durban-based side have struggled somewhat with consistency throughout the season. They looked abysmal against the Bulls at Kings Park one week and then a few weeks later, on the same turf, turned it on for the Highlanders.
For assistant coach Dick Muir consistency is something he and his management team have been trying to drive home in a squad of players who are still new to the subtle difficulties of being at their best week in week out.
“Our consistency has not been there,” Muir explained.
“Sometimes starting well, and sometimes not; but we have worked really hard on delivering a consistently good performance and that is what we are requesting. It has a lot to do with the preparation and leadership.”
Sharks captain, Ruan Botha, is only 26 and leading a franchise for the first time in Super Rugby. Yet he is still regarded as a bit of a veteran in top-tier rugby. Except for the likes of Tendai Mtawarira and Lwazi Mvovo, there is not a lot of battle-hardened leaders in this Sharks team.
“It is what happens in South Africa,” Muir went on. “We have got quite a big churn of players, so your experience is not that great.”
“But, once the guys get into the flow of things, it makes a big difference; once they understand that each week, you are coming against another team that if you are slightly off the mark you are going to get dealt with, and therefore you have to reset and re-go.”
The Sharks are indeed learning that they need to be able to work through Super Rugby with a steady nerve and be consistently good, there is no room for one week up, one week down.
In saying that, the Sharks have a game of redemption on the cards this week as they face the Bulls at Loftus after last month’s 40-10 humbling at Kings Park.
“The guys are still hurting from that Bulls performance,” Muir admitted.
“There is a score that needs to be settled. The big thing is that the competition is so intense that week in and week out, whether it is a South African, New Zealand, Australian team or even the Jaguars.”