Finding the balance

2014-05-28 00:00

SHARKS centre Paul Jordaan admits that striking the right balance between attack and defence was something the Sharks had to accomplish if they wanted to go all the way and win Super Rugby.

The competition leaders were back in training at the King’s Park outer fields for the first time yesterday after being given two days off following their return from their successful overseas tour on Saturday night.

Prior to the trip and indeed during the early part of it in Australia, they were questioned by some critics for scoring too few tries and relying too much on their kicking game.

But they have gradually improved and five tries in their last two outings in New Zealand have taken their season tally to 23, an average of just under two per game, although it is still the fourth worst in the competition.

Jordaan admits that it is an area that director of rugby Jake White continues to work on, acknowledging that relying on defence alone to challenge for honours may be tough.

“We’ve definitely worked on it, but it’s a work in progress,” he said. “The coach said to us that we can’t win a tournament just by defending.

“So we have worked on it and scored a first phase try against the Crusaders, although we couldn’t play the way we trained to after [Jean] Deysel’s red card.

“The Blues game was a little bit wet, so we couldn’t throw the ball around that much. They play a running game. So we’ve worked hard on it and it will come.”

Defensively they have been sound, with their opponents only breaching the whitewash 18 times all year. That puts them on top of the pile.

The defence was brilliant against the Blues in their last outing, the 29-23 victory in Albany last Friday, while they turned in a monumental effort to overcome the Crusaders 30-25 in Christchurch six days before that.

Jordaan, who started every game on tour, has been a key part of the backline, having missed five weeks of the season earlier due to a knee injury.

He has partnered S’bura Sithole in midfield after injuries at flyhalf meant that regular centre Frans Steyn was shifted to pivot.

“I’ve worked hard on my defence and I’ve enjoyed playing at 12,” the 22-year-old said. “The coach moved me there because of the injuries at 10, so Frans had to switch his position.

“But I’ve enjoyed 12. It’s a little bit different from 13, but it’s been a good challenge.”

The Sharks face the Stormers this week after returning with three wins from four in Australasia and Jordaan believes they will have to hit the ground running against the Capetonians, who despite sitting 11th, have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks by winning their last two games.

“They’re definitely improving every week,” Jordaan added. “I think after they saw they can’t make the play-offs, they’ve just stared to throw the ball around and it’s worked for them.

“They’re really dangerous and will want to knock the number one side off the top. It’s definitely something they’ll want to do this weekend.”

White announced yesterday that there were no fresh injury worries, while the Sharks boss was hoping that Marcell Coetzee would be available again after returning early from their tour due to a shoulder injury.

The Durban side name their team for the Saturday clash tomorrow.

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