Sharks' secret: 'Great team spirit and great coaching'
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: The Sharks have had far greater success on the road than at home this year, but it is not a record that concerns coach Robert du Preez much.
Of their six home games this season the Durban-based franchise has won only two – against the Blues in Round Two and the Rebels in Round Six.
However, away wins over the Sunwolves and Lions, along with a victory over the Waratahs and a draw with the table-topping Crusaders have put the Sharks firmly back in the hunt.
They are currently fifth on the tournament standings and a good bet to reach the play-offs for a fourth consecutive year.
The anomaly of doing better on the road than at home comes down to two basic issues.
“Great team spirit and great coaching,” Du Preez said from the team’s training base in the New Zealand holiday resort of Queenstown
“The boys like to tour and they like each other’s company,” the coach said ahead of their Round 13 encounter with the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
“There is a great vibe in the camp.”
Du Preez said that upbeat spirit in the camp also comes through in the team’s defence.
In the 21-all draw with the Crusaders in Christchurch they made 183 tackles and missed just 20 – a tackle success rate 90 percent.
“It shows the character of the team and the team spirit,” Du Preez said in a teleconference call.
“The players have been immense.
“I have said that from the word go, from the beginning of the year, that we have a great plan from an attacking point of view and a great plan from a defensive point of view.
“[Last] Saturday we showed how we cared for each other as a squad.
“That is the bottom line.”
Having already bagged six points on tour, the Sharks will look to further cement their place in the play-off zone when they take on the unpredictable Chiefs in Hamilton.
“We know how tough it is to tour and how tough this competition is.”
The Sharks last beat the Waratahs for the first time in 19 years in Sydney and then drew with the Crusaders.
“We are very pleased with where we are,” he said, adding: “This week’s game [against the Chiefs] is massive for us.
“We know what is at stake, but the boys have a lot of belief now.
“We have too much respect for the Chiefs to take them lightly.”