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Line-outs will be key, says Franco


Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 11 Apr 2013 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , ,

Veteran lock Franco van der Merwe, in his loan-season with the Sharks, warns that although the Stormers have had struggles with their line-outs this season that they will still be a threat this weekend.

“They had a tough day against the Crusaders, but then against the Cheetahs they didn’t lose one line-out and they showed that they have character and good players.

“That’s one area where they are good, their line-outs, and especially the drives from the line-outs; they have scored some tries and have gained a lot of meters off their drives, so that’s one area we need to defend really well. We can’t just wait for them to attack us, we’ve really got to be up for the challenge this weekend.” said van der Merwe.

The experienced lock drafted in from the Lions this season has started every game for the Sharks and although he has not yet had any great individual impact on the game, it has been evident that the Sharks have made great strides in improving their line-out this year. It’s hard to say how much van der Merwe has to do with this improvement, but certainly a relatively young Sharks line-out can learn a few lessons from the veteran lock.

Van der Merwe said that it was back to basics for the Sharks in the line-outs when he arrived at the beginning of this year and that the team has been working really hard to improve this area.

“We just simplified the whole line-out. We started the year with just two line-outs and that’s the main thing we have been working on ever since. That’s one of the objectives, to simplify and to work really hard with the hookers.” van der Merwe said.

“Craig Burden and Kyle Cooper have worked really hard. Sometimes you don’t see that on the field. They have been criticised a lot for their line-outs, but I think getting rid of the line-out troubles and really focusing on what they can do, Burden and Kyle have showed that they are really good hookers and it helps that they can focus on more than just the line-outs now.”

This weekend the Sharks line out will be tested against one of the best in the competition again, and although they stood up nicely against the Stormers in round 2, they won’t forget what happened in last year’s Currie Cup final. The Sharks however have the experience of Van der Merwe to fall back on this year and without giving anything away, the Lions player did say that playing against an opposition player as many time as he and Andries Bekker have, you will always have a few ideas of how to counter them.

“It’s not that easy to pick up on everything and during the game some things just happen too quickly to pick up on. We’ve played against each other for a few years though so there’s one or two things we’ll try and he’ll know about our contesting that they will need to change for the weekend and then there’s always something new he brings in. So it’s fun playing against guys you know well.”



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