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VIDEO: Sharks heading to a 'proper place'

The Sharks are building something special in Durban, even though it does not reflect in their United Rugby Championship results.

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It is their performances in the Challenge Cup, where they are the first South African team to reach a major European Professional Club Rugby semifinal.

At Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, the Sharks will bid to become the first SA side to reach an EPCR Final when they face off against three-time winners Clermont Auvergne.

The Sharks boast World Cup winners like Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Eben Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi in their squad.

Clermont can field a team packed full of internationals from around the globe.

While Saturday’s semifinal is looming large as an immediate hurdle, Ulster-bound wing Werner Kok said the team has turned the corner and is moving in the right direction.

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Sharks captain Lukhanyo Am, focusing on the now, said ‘preparation’ is the key in big games like this.

“We have done great putting ourselves in this position.” he told @rugby365com, adding: “Once you are in the change room [before the game] it is about having confidence in our preparation.

“We are putting in the hard yards now [in training].

“When we run out there [onto The Stoop pitch] we should not have any doubts and go out with a lot of confidence.”

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Am admit they have a lot of ‘characters’ in the team that will assist with the leadership.

However, he is not the type of captain who gets ‘hyped up’ before a game.

However, this “big” game brings something different out of the normally unruffled centre.

“Everyone will bed very hyped and excited,” Am said about the build-up to Saturday’s face-off with the three-time champion Clermont teams.

(WATCH as Sharks captain Lukhanyo Am and wing Werner Kok front up to the media ahead of the Challenge Cup semifinal on Saturday. …)

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Former BlitzBok stalwart Werner Kok, who is nearing the end of his journey with the Sharks before moving to Ulster next season, said this game is right up there as one of the biggest events in a storied career.

“The biggest game [I was involved in] in the 15-a-side game was a Currie Cup game,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “This one is massive.

“I love play-off games and this is very important for every player in the team and the entire KwaZulu-Natal.”

Kok, 31, said he can’t afford to look ahead to his move to Ireland.

“There is a lot still to be done here at the Sharks.

“The Sharks is busy developing something big [in Durban].

“A lot of change is happening in the [Sharks] camp.

“The culture is changing and it will be a phenomenal and championship team.”

Speaking about the dramatic upswing – after a horror, winless start in the URC – Kok said it was a ‘mindset change’ s in the camp.

“There was a culture change as well, with the new coaching set-up,” Kok said about the return of John Plumtree.

“Inside the camp, what most people didn’t see, there was quite a bit of change.

“Everyone is aligned towards one goal and that makes a massive difference.

“You can see things are falling in line at the moment.

“The Sharks are on the way to a proper place.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Picture credit: @SharksRugby

 

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