Sharks control their own destiny
Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White is well aware his table-topping team has a huge target on their collective backs.
However, the Durban-based franchise remain in a position of power as they head into the second half of their Super Rugby season.
Their next challenge comes in Durban on Friday, when they host the Highlanders, before they head off on a four-match tour of Australasia – where they will face the Rebels, Brumbies, Crusaders and Blues.
White, speaking at a media briefing in Durban ahead of Friday's home game, said everyone wants to beat the top team in the competition.
"Last week I made a point to the players that the one win the Cheetahs would have picked would have been against the top of the table Sharks," the Sharks boss said.
"As this competition progresses, every team says they want to beat the team top of the standings.
"The Highlanders are here, they're on tour and they've had a bye. I have no doubt they want to play as well as they can and get a win."
White said there is still a way to go in this competition and defeat on Friday would not be a train wreck, but for his team it is vital to keep on winning.
"What we want to do is control our own destiny," he said, adding: "[We must] make sure we get a home Final and home semifinal.
"And to do that, you have to win as many game as possible, whether they are home or away. Whether the teams have many All Blacks or many Wallabies, it's irrelevant. We want to win those games.
"We want to make sure we win the competition and the simple thing is we have got to beat everyone in front of us, regardless of who they are. We have to be focussed on getting the job done.
"I have no doubt that the target gets bigger and bigger on our backs because people want to knock us over.
"As I said when I joined the Union, I'm not going to be embarrassed with the fact that we have a good squad, or that there are expectations of us doing well in this competition. And if that means people want to beat us, we'd much rather be in that position than be at the bottom of the standings with no points, trying to scramble for a win."
White also defended his team against criticism that their 'win at any cost' approach means they are not entertaining enough.
"There are no prize for a game being a spectacle, only for winning a game," the Sharks boss said.
"Sometimes you have to win games the way we did last week. Everyone played a part in the way that game unfolded. Credit to us in that the Cheetahs – who have scored so many tries against so many good defences – didn't risk the chance of playing against us.
"That meant that they view our defence and the way we play as a massive strength which we see as a bonus."