Sharks amped for the 'big one'
INTERVIEW: Even though it is no more than a pre-season match, the Sharks are amped for the arrival of the champion Bulls in Durban on Friday.
The final round of South Africa’s Preparation Series gets underway with the Sharks hosting the Currie Cup champions at Kings Park.
Despite having lost two of their three Preparation matches, the Durban outfit is confident they are on the right track.
And Friday is the ideal opportunity to showcase the progress they have made.
Yaw Osei Penxe said he “loves the vibe” in Durban, having joined the Sharks late last year – first on a short-term deal and now on a full-time contract after the demise of the Southern Kings.
He spoke about the joy of finally getting onto the park and playing again, after spending the first few weeks of the Preparation Series as part of the Sharks’ conditioning squad.
“All the teams are looking to create squad depth and we [the Sharks] have produced some great performances,” he said of their three Preparations matches – a 35-10 victory over Griquas, followed by a 38-39 loss to the Cheetahs and a 40-43 loss to the Lions.
He said facing the Bulls at Kings Park will be a “big one”, adding that he expects the Pretoria outfit to load up on some more senior players.
“There is a bit of excitement amongst the boys,” he said of Friday’s encounter.
With coach Sean Everitt using the Preparation Series to ‘fine-tune’ the Sharks’ game, results have taken a backseat to the ‘processes’.
“We achieved some of our goals,” he said, adding that the losses in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg were the result of some “minor issues”.
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The coach, while ‘disappointed’ with last week’s result, said they are laying a solid foundation.
“From a metrics point of view, it was exactly what we wanted to do,” Everitt said.
“We know it is a series of preparation games and apart from actually playing some rugby, it’s good for us to use it as a conditioning exercise as well.
“In the three games we’ve played, the guys have shown good intensity and they’ve been very brave with the ball in hand.
“We did struggle at times with discipline issues at the breakdown, there were also a couple of set-piece issues, including the kick-offs,” the coach said, adding: “But all in all, a great performance and a lot of courage shown by the boys to come back from a half-time deficit.”