Sharks sweating the Swys factor
The Sharks, more than anybody else, know why the Golden Lions are so dangerous with ball in hand.
After all, it is a Sharks stalwart that is taking charge of the Lions' lethal backline.
Swys de Bruin, a long-time Sharks Academy head coach and a man who also took charge of their Under-19, Under-21 and Wildebeest teams, moved from Durban to Johannesburg this year.
Apart from a stint in Kimberley, as Griquas head coach between 1998 and 2003, De Bruin has been involved in the Sharks structures from 1996 to the end of last year.
He is still respected for his philosophies and knowledge in Durban.
One person who has first hand knowledge of the threat he poses is his direct 'opponent' on Friday, Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt.
He contributes the Lions' success with their expansive game to the ability of De Bruin.
"Fortunately for me I experienced what they had to offer in the Vodacom Cup quarterfinal," Everitt told this website, when asked about Friday's Round Two Currie Cup encounter in Durban.
Not only did the Lions beat the Sharks 42-25 in Durban, but nine of those Lions players have been named in the starting XV for Friday, with another two on the bench.
"They are a good team and they have been playing really good rugby," the Sharks backline coach said, adding: "It is not for nothing that they are back in Super Rugby next year.
"We will certainly need to be on top of our game as far as our physical presence is concerned. They have an experienced tight five, as well as backs that can really put pace on the ball and they seem to be having a go from everywhere on the field – we will have to be alert all the time."
Asked about the Lions' expansive game, Everitt did not hesitate to highlight the influence of the Johannesburg outfit's new backline coach.
"We have worked very closely with Swys de Bruyn here in Durban for many years," he said.
"We know his brand of rugby and certainly they are starting to play the rugby that Swys enjoys."
Everitt feels that despite their expansive philosophy, the Lions do have a 'plan B'.
"If it [attacking game] doesn't work for them on the first go, they tend to kick the ball as well.
"They are a good all-round outfit, they are very motivated to do well in the competition and we will have to work hard to contain them and stop their momentum."
Everitt felt that the harks will only be able to get their own backline play into the picture if they dominate the set pieces.
"If you don't dominate in your set-piece play, get go-forward ball and achieve gainline advantage, the backs won't have too many opportunities," the Sharks mentor told this website.
"The only opportunity we had last Friday [in a 30-32 loss to Griquas] was on the counter attack, which we executed very well and scored a try.
"The game revolves around set pieces and the number of penalties you give away. We gave away 15 [penalties last] Friday, which is double the number we should be giving away."
He said the high penalty count was twofold – issues at scrum time and discipline.
"As we know, the scrums have been difficult over the last two years and is often a bit of a touch-and-go affair as far as referees are concerned," Everitt said, adding: "We do sympathise with them [referees] as far as that is concerned.
"The scrum area has always been vague and we can all agree with that.
"But then, going off your feet at the breakdown is unacceptable and our players know that, so that is a discipline issue."
By Jan de Koning