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Sharks shambles: 'There is no overnight fix'

SPOTLIGHT: Sharks defence coach Joey Mongalo provided context to his team’s current state, ahead of the United Rugby Championship Round 11 clash against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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The Sharks head into the clash at the bottom of the URC table with 10 points after 10 games.

The Durbanites’ current position, coupled with shocking defeats to Zebre and Connacht, has raised a few concerns.

But despite winning just one URC match, Mongalo believes things are gradually changing and has called for patience as they build a new era.

“I want to make it clear we are concerned to be so low down on the standings, we do expect more of ourselves,” Mongalo said.

“There is context, though. [Sharks head coach] John Plumtree is effectively the new CEO of a business where he is trying to introduce a whole new way of working.

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“He also has a new Executive Committee in terms of the coaches he is working with.

“He hasn’t worked with any of us before.

“When you have new staff and lots of changes you are trying to engineer, that will take time.

“I can’t imagine any business that, in a scenario like that, will not go through some kind of growing pains.

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“There is no overnight fix, but hopefully that analogy can bring some kind of context.

“It is not an excuse for poor performance, it is just that we do accept it will take time to get to where we want to be.”

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‘Bit of luck’

Reflecting on the season thus far, the coach said there were a couple of positive signs.

He added that most defeats were quite close aside from the results against Munster (21-34 in Round One), Leinster (13-34 in Round Two) and Bulls (10-44 in Round Seven).

“If you take away the losses to Leinster, Munster and the Bulls, and look instead at the rest of the season as a whole, you will note that there are a lot of games where we were within a score of winning,” said Mongalo.

“I am not brushing over the fact we lost those games.

“However, the closeness shows enough evidence that with a bit of luck, we might have had different results and hopefully if we take a few more steps towards where we want to be when those losses will become wins.

“If you look at the positives from our last defeat to the Stormers, we defended very well in the first 20 minutes.

“In that opening quarter, we were forced to make 76 tackles to just seven from the Stormers. I also thought that seeing we were 7-22 down at one stage, we did well to get back into the game and be one score away at the end.

“That fighting spirit is what we want to become synonymous with.

“At the same time, we were also let down in that game by little inaccuracies that have kept tripping us up.

“On the negative side, letting Evan Roos put in a break from his own 22 that led to a try for them was a soft moment.

“Two of their three tries came after just two or three rucks and that was soft from us.”

SA URC Shield standings after four rounds

While the Sharks have quite frankly made peace with the fact that they are out of the URC play-offs, the former Bulls defence coach said pride will be more than enough motivation to end the season strong.

“We are an extremely proud union and a proud rugby province, so we always go into match wanting to represent the badge as best as we can,” Mongalo said.

“We want to see how far we can finish, we want to challenge ourselves to climb from where we are at the moment

“The only way to do that is to continue to fight and put on performances we are proud of.

“We want to put in a big effort to do that and if we finish the season strongly, obviously it will be good for our confidence for next year.”

The team will face the Lions this weekend, followed by two tough home fixtures against Ulster and Edinburgh.

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