DURBAN – The Sunwolves have never been a team to strike fear into the hearts and minds of their opponents, although they are a side that has caused a few upsets, especially over their South African foes.
The Sharks will be the first to face the Japanese side when they travel to Singapore this week to take them on on Saturday.
The Sunwolves have not, and probably will not, be a title threat, but they will do well to make the Sharks think about their own early season preparations.
The Sharks have come away from two pre-season games without a win, and while the result may not matter in these encounters, the loss in Cape Town against the Lions was one predicated on defence, while the same can be said about the draw against the Bulls in Ballito.
The Bulls game was not a great showing for the spectators, and seemed to indicate that the Sharks had been more focused on defence than attack.
However, they did show some attacking intent in the second half, but that was only after the reserves and second-stringers came on.
Coach Robert du Preez went into the Ballito encounter with his strongest possible side, and it is probably the side that will start against the Sunwolves, but there is still work to be done.
The gelling of his team, especially in attack, was quite poor, as the team were happy to allow the Bulls to run at them, and to be fair, managed to keep them out.
The Sunwolves will no doubt be in an attacking mood in this first clash of Super Rugby, having made their name as a side that is happy to give it all.
This will suit the Sharks who have thus far shown they are happy to counter-attack, but it will mean another game of defensive effort rather than working on attack.
After the Sunwolves, there’s another side in the mix that likes to attack at the expense of defence, in the Blues from New Zealand, but it gets tougher from there with the Stormers visiting Kings Park and the Sharks heading to Loftus.
The Sharks will certainly feel like they are the overwhelming favourites to beat the Sunwolves, but the concern is more about the tone they set early on, especially with the Currie Cup momentum still fresh in their minds.
Many will want the Sharks to have a good showing in Super Rugby, but equally so, they will want it to be based on attack and skilful rugby. If this is to be the case then the men from Durban will have to change gears from their pre-season bouts.
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