The Durban based team has had a tough two weeks since they so convincingly beat the Lions in Johannesburg, suffering defeats to both the Jaguares and Reds at home. They have now departed on their overseas tour where they face the Waratahs, Crusaders and Chiefs respectively. Sitting third in the South African conference and 6th on the overall log, the team is clinging on to a play-off spot at this stage.
The Sharks will be hoping that their overseas tour re-ignites their season and that the team manages to gel whilst away from home. Individual players for the team have really shown some good form over the season. Their problem has always come down to their inability to finish and their disjointed efforts on attack. If the team can string together a more fluid showing with ball in hand they should start out the tour with a win over the Waratahs which would be a huge help before they face the table topping Crusaders a week later.
The Sharks however do have a major boost for their side as they departed on tour with a full squad to choose from. It is a good possibility that they will play a full strength forward pack for the first time this season as all of Philip Van der Walt, Jean-Luc Du Preez and Ruan Botha have returned from injury and will be pushing for starting roles (Some having already made appearances) as well as industrious hooker, Akker Van der Merwe returning from suspension.
Although the Sharks pack has strung together some decent performances this season, you can be sure they’ll need these seasoned campaigners if they are to challenge the Crusaders at home in a week and a game against the ‘Tahs is the perfect place to get some game time under their belts.’
In the Back-line Sbu’ Nkosi is also returning and could bulk up the outside channel should it be deemed necessary. A change the Sharks are likely to look at making in the back-line comes at fly-half, were Robert Du Preez jr is struggling a bit for form at the moment. Curwin Bosch has had some excellent cameos of the bench at full back, however the player is equally adept at first receiver and will likely get his chance to stake a claim for the jersey this weekend.
With the returning experience and size in the forward pack and some minor tweaks to the back-line the Sharks should get their tour off to a good start this weekend, and will surely be looking for at least two wins from three on this leg. Over the last few seasons the team has toured well and fans will be hoping this continues so that they can get a more secure footing on the table with the knock out stages looming.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Image credit: rugby redefined