DURBAN – The Sharks will wrap up their pre-season training with two warm-up matches at the end of January, against the Bulls and then French club Racing 92, ahead of their Super Rugby kick-off against the Lions in Johannesburg on February 18.
The Sharks play the Bulls in Nelspruit on January 27 in what will be a typical chop-and-change warm-up for both squads, and then with a trimmed-down squad travel to Hong Kong for a clash with the Paris club on February 3.
It will be fascinating to see how much game time the Paris club give to Patrick Lambie against his old team, and also of acute interest will be seeing who starts at No 10 for the Sharks against Lambie or Racing’s “other” flyhalf, the legendary Dan Carter.
Will it be Curwin Bosch or Robert du Preez jnr? The former had a very good Currie Cup season for the Sharks last year only to be outplayed by Western Province’s Du Preez in both the last round robin game and then the final.
Coach Robert du Preez intimated on Wednesday that time and form will tell which of the players gets the nod at flyhalf for the majority of the Super Rugby season.
“Robert and Curwin have worked really well together in pre-season training,” the coach said. “For the first time in my two years in charge we have a squad where there is no complacency in any position.
"Each player knows he has to work hard for his place. That is exactly what a coach wants. It is a long season and we have to think carefully about how we give everybody a chance to get game time. I honestly believe that (possible) success will depend on how wisely we use our resources.”
Du Preez said that the Sharks’ pre-season training had been slightly different to the past. Instead of heavy fitness sessions, they had scaled back and concentrated more on fitness drills involving ball handling.
In unfortunate news, Du Preez confirmed that the serious knee injury prop Coenie Oosthuizen suffered in Dublin playing for the Springboks in November will rule him out of Super Rugby. This will mean a big opportunity for loosehead Thomas du Toit to make a serious name for himself.
Also, Springbok and Sharks flank Jean-Luc du Preez’s ankle injury, incurred in the Currie Cup final, will sideline him for at least a month of Super Rugby.