DURBAN – The Sharks can be forgiven for the ambush they suffered last week against slick SuperSport champions Griquas, but nothing short of a massive improvement will do when they host powerful Western Province tomorrow.
Province showed their strength by overwhelming the Bulls last week, and they are the early favourites to win the Currie Cup title this year, so the onus is on the Sharks to show they are serious about defending their title.
It is going to be tough for the Sharks seeing as new coach Sean Everitt is only into his second week in charge, which is little time to tune the players out of the dour Robert du Preez way of playing and into a free-thinking game where players are at liberty to express themselves.
My opinion is that it is going to be a struggle for the Sharks to reinvent the way they play in a compressed Currie Cup that will be over when it will feel that it had only just begun – each team has five games before the semi-finals
And that is why it is going to be unfair to judge Everitt on the Currie Cup, but what we can judge tomorrow against Province is the collective effort of the players and the need for growth from the Griquas game given that “growth” is the stated goal of the team for this campaign.
Speaking on behalf of the players, loosehead prop Juan Schoeman says that last week’s match “Definitely wasn’t the start we wanted. But no excuses and we’re up for Western Province and ready to give our best performance”.
“That big defeat was a major wake-up call for us and we know that as long as the work we put in this week is more effective than last week, then we will keep growing,” he added.
“We believe we are a better team than how we played against Griquas … we got a shock and need to make sure that we use it as a learning curve for the next battle.
“The mental switch that has to be flicked is to play as a team and not to try and win the game on your own. When that comes together that is when you get the momentum and continuity that wins you games.”
The only change from last week’s team made by Everitt sees Rhyno Smith coming in for Aphelele Fassi at fullback with Fassi playing off the bench.