Sharks get a big warning from a familiar face
SPOTLIGHT: South African lock Jandre Marais said his club Bordeaux-Begles “are not on holiday” as they prepare to face the Sharks in his home country in the Champions Cup on Saturday.
The French side arrived in Durban after a 24-hour journey which included stopovers in Paris and Johannesburg but plan to fit in some off the field activities before needing at least a point from the weekend’s game to keep their last-16 hopes alive.
“We’re pretty busy. Our management staff did a great job by letting us taste all the local dishes at the hotel so we haven’t really had to move,” Marais told AFP.
“We have a busy week, because our plane trip took a bit longer, our week is a bit shortened so we don’t have a lot of loose time.
“Tomorrow [Friday] I’ll see my brother. We’re going on a safari this [Thursday] afternoon.
“But we’re not here on holiday,” he added.
Marais, 33, spent six years at King’s Park before heading over to France in 2013 and last weekend played his 200th game for Bordeaux-Begles, based in one of the country’s best-known wine-producing areas.
This season, South African sides are competing in the Champions Cup for the first time having left the southern hemisphere Super Rugby for Europe’s domestic United Rugby Championship.
“A lot of people are against it with the European Cup not being European anymore,” Marais said.
“I feel it brings an edge to our side. It’s a different kind of rugby.
“It develops us as a team. For the French national side it will help them to play against South Africa,” he added.
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Beware the baguette
This weekend, Marais is set to play against South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi.
Flank Kolisi announced he will be joining Marais in France after this year’s World Cup signing a contract with Racing 92.
“He’ll slot in easily in Paris,” Marais said.
“One thing I’ll tell him is to watch out for the bread.
“Everyone gains a little bit of weight in the first year so watch out for that,” he added.
Elsewhere in the third of four pool stage rounds of the Champions Cup, the pick of the ties include Munster playing Northampton, holders La Rochelle hosting Ulster and record five-time winners Toulouse heading to Sale.