DURBAN – The high-flying Rebels are the talk of the town in Australian rugby, which is relevant to the Sharks because on Saturday, they play a Brumbies side smarting from a heavy loss to the Melbourne team and then next week play the Rebels.
The Rebels beat the Brumbies 33-10 at the weekend and have been a revelation this year, scoring a maximum 15 log points from their three games to go top of the Australian Conference.
The Brumbies are fourth after two losses, with just four points.
On Saturday, they play their first home game, and the players have been urging their notoriously parochial fans to turn out and spur the side to victory.
The Sharks won their first game at the weekend and are determined to start their tour on a winning note, especially against a Brumbies team that is vulnerable in this first season under their new coach Dan McKellar, who is tweaking the Brumbies’ playing style after taking over from coach Stephen Larkham.
Last Saturday evening, Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph said that the Sharks would need no reminding to target a Brumbies side short on confidence and get their tour off to a running start, especially with the Aussie form team, the Rebels next up.
Joseph, who doubles as the Japan national coach, said he had noticed that the Sharks are a side that are clearly intent on attack this year, and while they can play the power game upfront, he said he had seen a willingness to offload the ball in the tackle or before it.
“The coaching team have got them going very well,” Joseph said. “They have a talented midfield that can cause damage with their offloading to that quick back-three.”
Meanwhile in Canberra, the hurting home team are preparing to throw the kitchen sink at the Sharks.
Brumbies wing Henry Speight said it was a matter of taking pride in the jersey. “We want to put in a performance we can be proud of as a group and give something our supporters can take hope from,” he told The Canberra Times.
“We have new coaches and three weeks is not a lot of time to get things to click, but we are optimistic and we’ll be looking each other in the eye leading into the Sharks game.
“We have a longer turnaround this week, and it’s our first home game of the season, we’ll rip into this game and hopefully see plenty of fans out there.”
“The Rebels went a man down and we didn’t really expose that when we had the advantage of numbers, we need to expose that vulnerability and then get our defence going when it’s the other way,” Speight said.
“They scored three tries when there were only 14 of us, which was a tough pill to swallow, but we’ll get back into it this week and put in a real big performance at home.
“It’s just finding balance in what we’re doing and not pushing things too much, that’s a key factor.”