Sharks embrace the 'new ideas' from returning Boks
URC SPOTLIGHT: The Sharks have taken to heart the lessons they learnt from their tour of Europe and hope to apply those in the next fortnight.
There were losses to Munster (17-42), Glasgow Warriors (24-35) and Cardiff (17-23) – with their solitary win a 27-13 triumph against Ospreys.
They start their home leg of the United Rugby Championship by hosting Welsh franchise Scarlets at Kings Park on Saturday, with Italian outfit Zebre visiting a week later.
Seasoned loose forward Henco Venter said they will ‘reap the rewards’ of the experiences of the trip going forward.
After a month on the road in Europe, the Sharks not just have the advantage of ‘home comforts’, they have been bolstered by the return of a number of Springboks.
Fan favourite Aphelele Fassi featured off the bench in the 34-40 loss to the Cheetahs in a mid-season friendly in Bloemfontein last week.
The rest of the Springbok joined in training this week.
“There are a few fresh faces, with some new ideas,” the 29-year-old loose forward said, adding: “It makes a massive difference.
“We are definitely better of here [at home].”
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) November 24, 2021
Venter admitted the set pieces produced some problems in the loss to the Cheetahs last week and their focus would be on getting their line-outs sorted this week.
“It is all about taking ownership [for your role] in the set pieces,” he said.
The loose forward that consistency is another aspect, having blown ‘hot and cold’ in Bloemfontein.
“Eliminating those soft moments we had against the Cheetahs is something we are working on.”
The other big factor is Durban’s infamous humidity factor.
“We know how to adjust our game plan,” Venter said, adding: “When I was playing for the Cheetahs and coming to Durban, we always knew about the humidity.
“However, the opposition doesn’t always know how to handle it. That could be an advantage to us.
“The European teams have that advantage with the cold [weather up north]. They are accustomed to those conditions and we are accustomed to these [warm, humid] conditions in Durban.”
Venter said highly rated Irish-born attack coach Noel McNamara will have some great insights into the Scarlets from his days with Leinster.
He knows all about the teams that play in Europe,” the seasoned loose forward said.
“We have that European influence [McNamara], with our South African brand.”
Looking towards Saturday’s outing, Venter said they are up for the challenge.
“The Scarlets play a lot like the Cheetahs – a very expansive game, so we will get a lot of the challenges we had last week against the Cheetahs.
“That’s why it was such a great opportunity to have that hit-out against the Cheetahs [last week].
“We should be well-prepared for whatever they [the Welsh visitors] throw at us.”
* Picture credit: Howard Cleland