DURBAN – The Sharks will need to hit the ground running at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit tomorrow if they are to snuff out the fiery threat that the Pumas will undoubtedly pose.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse will have his men fired up for this one as they look to break their duck in the Currie Cup after losing three close games.
The Sharks were very good in their last outing, a comfortable win over Western Province in Durban, but last week they had a bye and quite often we have seen teams struggling to get going after a break.
But Sharks coach Sean Everitt believes they have matters under control
“The break was very useful for us because we used the first two days of the bye week to pump up the conditioning,” Everitt said. “The guys had a rest after Super Rugby, so we only really had eight days to prepare before our first match, so the bye gave us the opportunity to spike the conditioning.
“In saying that the guys also had a good four days off and they’ve certainly came back excited, and have been outstanding in training this week so hopefully we can take that into the game on Saturday.”
The Sharks will also take confidence into tomorrow’s match thanks to the manner in which they bounced back from losing to Griquas to handsomely beat Province.
“The boys showed what they can do when they are up for it, so we are looking for consistency with regards to that performance against Province,” Everitt said. “We expect that the guys will be fresher after the rest so we have been concentrating on the effort that needs to go in against the Pumas.
It is more effort off the ball that we are talking about, and that requires no skill if we can put in that kind of effort against WP we shouldn’t have a problem against the Pumas.”
On the subject of effort, that is one thing the Pumas do not lack under Stonehouse according to Everitt.
“Jimmy manages to fire his troops up pretty well. Every time we have played against the Pumas they have been extremely physical and they tend to lift themselves every single weekend,” Everitt said.
“We know that Jimmy drives them hard during the week, so that is how they play in the game. He gets a lot out of his guys and when he wasn’t there in the past they weren’t quite the aggressive team they are when he is in charge.”
In the only change to the team that beat WP, Everitt has swapped Phendulani Buthelezi for Jacques Vermoulen on the flank, with the latter reverting to the bench.
The Sharks team is:
15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (c-c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c-c), Phendulani Buthelezi, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi.