DURBAN – Often in sports, when faced with a particularly tough opponent, or adverse situation, a team can go into its shell and get rolled over.
Of course, they can also step up their game.
That is what happened when the Sharks headed to New Zealand after a torrid time in Australia, and the hope is that the same will happen this weekend against the Highlanders (5pm, Saturday).
The Otago outfit are into their second week of tour having played the Bulls first up in a massively intriguing and revealing game.
The Highlanders showed that they can up their game when the going gets tough, winning with barely any possession and with creaking scrums.
They will be buoyed for their encounter in Durban, and that is a dangerous prospect, as it means the Sharks will once again have to play at their best.
Not only will the Highlanders be confident, but they will be weary of the way in which the Sharks can tussle with the Kiwi style of play.
Marius Louw who has been an important impact player off the bench behind Andre Esterhuizen, one of the standouts this season, admits that the Sharks, as well as many other teams outside of New Zealand, do pick up their game when faced with a skillful opponent.
“Playing a New Zealand side is always a step up for everyone,” Louw said. “But, they also know that we are on a good streak at the moment so they will also up their game against us too.”
“They know what we are able to do against New Zealand sides, so it is going to be a tough game, one I am looking forward to.”
Louw said that one of the reasons the Kiwi sides are so deadly against any opposition was that they never disrespected who they were playing.
The Sharks may currently be at the bottom of the African conference, just two points, but the Highlanders will not let that make them complacent.
Louw, who was a star of the Currie Cup side that reached the final last year, says he is very happy in his first full season of Super Rugby.
He managed to pick up a few minutes at the end of last season, against the Bulls, but has been slowly integrated to the next level this year.
“It has gone well for the team,” Louw said. “Things have not gone as we have planned, but we are on an upward curve, and that is a positive.”
“Personally I have been very happy with getting game time, coach is trusting enough to get me on in the last few minutes of a game and I really appreciate it.”
“I am hoping to get more game time and prove them right.”