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Sharks' insider knowledge key at Ellis Park

SPOTLIGHT: Sharks loose forward Vincent Tshituka’s insider knowledge of the Lions will come in very handy when the two teams go head-to-head in the United Rugby Championship Round 11 match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

It has been an extremely challenging URC season for the Sharks, who are at the bottom of the table with 10 points after 10 games.

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The Durban-based franchise is in desperate need of a victory and the predictable nature of the Lions’ game may give the Sharks the perfect opportunity.

Tshituka knows all too well what to expect from his former side.

“With how our season has been going, they [the Lions] will definitely be in a place where they would want to keep us down,” the 25-year-old said.

“They would not want to give us a breath of fresh air that we are desperately looking for.

“With the Lions and Sharks, it has always been a physical contest.

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“It has never been a game that lets down physically, so that will be the big thing that we will be emphasising as well.

“I also think because we are going to Ellis Park, they would want to move the ball around a lot.

“They will want to play a running brand of rugby and tire us out so that they can kick on later in the game – will be a big aspect of their plan.”

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While the teams have yet to be announced, Tshituka and his team already have a plan in place to halt the impact of playmakers Sanela Nohamba and Jordan Hendrikse.

Nohamba has been wearing the No.10 jersey in several games.

However, the Lions might surprise and select Hendrikse at flyhalf with Nohambe returning to scrumhalf.

Nohamba recently slotted in at scrumhalf during the defeat to the Bulls and added much-needed flair on attack.

“They are both the heart of the Lions’ attack, they give life to them and open up spaces.

“They have the ability to drain the other team when they are on top.

“For us, it’s going to be a big part of the game – to shut the momentum down and slow things down because they thrive on broken play and open space.”

Tshituka added: “You have to put them under pressure because that’s when they make mistakes.

“The thing about the Lions is that they are so adamant on the counter-attack and running the ball.

“A lot of times there are a lot of errors throughout the game and the more pressure you put on them the more errors creep out and the more errors the more they lose confidence.”

The brotherly rivalry

Tshituka revealed that returning to your old stomping ground is always accompanied by loads of emotions.

The additional prospect of going up against his brother Emmanual Tshituka – who has been one of the standouts in the Lions set-up – is just extra motivation to deliver your best.

The pair formed a dynamic partnership during the inaugural season of URC before older brother Vincent moved to Durban to join the Sharks in 2022.

“For me, it is always an honour stepping out on the field with my brother [Emmanual],” Tshishuka said, adding: “I always cherished every moment whether we are on the same team or the opposite side of the field

“It brings the best out of me, gives me more inspiration to be a the top of my game.”

He explained: “Playing against the Lions is always going to be special. Ellis Park played a big part in my career and life.

“But I’m not going there as a friend or teammate, I’m going there to get the job done.”

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