‘Do or die’ for Sharks

2014-09-11 00:00

THE Sharks have named their team early this week in an effort to settle combinations as they look to topple the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The most notable change is the inclusion of under 21 centre André Esterhuizen, who moves into the starting line-up for his Currie Cup debut in the absence of Paul Jordaan. He will make a formidable combination with S’bura Sithole, who returns to outside centre.

The change could give the Sharks some serious fire power off their set pieces as Esterhuizen is no shrinking violet. At 1,92 metres tall and weighing over 100 kg, he is a large figure in any midfield.

Another youngster, Tim Swie­l, gets a chance to start at fullback while Tonderai Chavhanga makes a welcome return on the wing after a week’s break to rest a niggling knee.

The pack remains unchanged except for the loss of injured Wiehan Hay. Marco Wentzel moves into the starting line-up and partners with lock Stephan Lewies in the engine room.

The mood in the camp hasn’t quite been sombre, but the message is clear — it’s do-or-die from here on out. Two losses in a row have called for introspection and the coaching staff is demanding nothing but the best.

“For me without a doubt unforced errors [are the biggest problem]. If you think we had 25 unforced turnovers on the weekend, we can cry and moan about the penalty count and the scrum calls, but you can definitely deal with unforced errors,” said assistant coach Paul Anthony.

He spoke earlier in the season about mistakes being a by-product of the youthful side taking chances and wanting to play. However, his tune has changed after the half-way mark of the pool stage.

“We are four weeks down the road and we’ve addressed it and we have to come down on it. There is nothing wrong with an offload, in fact you want it. But there is a time and a place and you either can do it or you can’t. We have to now distinguish, at this stage, just hold onto the ball if it’s necessary, be a lot more accurate and be responsible with the ball in your hand — it’s a simple equation,” he said.

Despite a harsher approach to errors, Anthony is confident that they have the fire power to win the tournament.

“At the moment we have to win all our games. We have to really believe, and I do believe we can. We have got a really good set piece and we have good players. I know there’s been talk that we are short of players and we are. But the players are good enough, we have just got to take a much more responsible attitude,” he said.

Looking forward to the weekend’s clash, Anthony expects the Cheetahs to come out all guns blazing.

“The Cheetahs at home will always be tough. Remember they have their backs to the wall, they know they need to win this at home and they’ve got to believe they can win it so there is no way we are going there with any illusions. To me it’s almost like a knockout match, you’ve got to go out there and win this game — there is no compromise.”

The Sharks meet the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at 3 pm on Saturday.

Sharks team: Tim Swiel, Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, Andre Esterhuizen, Tonderai Chavhanga, Lionel Cronje, Conrad Hoffmann, Tera Mtembu (captain), Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques Botes, Stephan Lewies, Marco Wentzel, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Thomas du Toit, Johan Meyer, Khaya Majola, Cameron Wright, Fred Zeilinga, SP Marais.

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