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Huge test awaits


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 5 Aug 2014 at 13:04
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

The Cell C Sharks get their Currie Cup defence underway in perhaps the most challenging fashion possible, when they travel to Kimberley to face a settled and dangerous Griquas team this Saturday.

With the local calendar now resembling nothing other than a ridiculous logjam, the fact that Currie Cup kicks off a mere week after Super Rugby ends is always going to disadvantage teams that have a heavy load in the latter competition – and this year the Sharks are in a worse position than most, as the only South African side to make the knock-out rounds at all.

Add to that the loss of eight Springboks, at least eight other senior players (whether to Japan or more lengthy overseas deals) and the handing over to a new coach in charge for the first time, there is very little reason to optimistic ahead of this weekend’s game. The Sharks have, in the past, recovered from an early-season Kimberley defeat and gone on to win the Currie Cup trophy; while we’re by no means ready to write off their challenge before a ball has been kicked in earnest, I think we need to acknowledge just how tough these first few weeks are going to be for them.

Premier Division new boys the EP Kings and the Pumas have, like Griquas, spent considerably more time honing both squad and game plan ahead of this weekend’s tournament kick-off.

Expect the Sharks to stick to their Supre Rugby blue print, but expect there to be some teething problems early on due to the inevitable change in personnel. While coach Brad Macleod-Henderson will have a near-untouched second row, midfield and back three to call on from the Super Rugby squad, it’s the composition of the “middle five”, the loose trio and half backs, that are likely to cause the most debate. Big calls need to be made in the back row, where Jacques Botes and AN Other young player will need to form a strong combination with new captain Tera Mtembu, at scrumhalf (Hanco Venter and Cam Wright are both talented but untried at this level) and – most crucially – at pivot, where Fred Zeilinga, Tim Swiel and new recruit Lionel Cronje will all be vying for game time.

The Sharks team to face Griquas will be named on Thursday morning.



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