Hard talk in the Sharks tank

2013-03-12 00:00

THE Sharks readily concede they are “not on top of their game” and will have to improve dramatically if they are to topple Jake White’s log-leading Brumbies in Saturday evening’s Super Rugby outing at King’s Park.

The third-placed Sharks, along with the Brumbies and Bulls, are unbeaten after three rounds, but they have yet to show their attacking edge, and their weekend victory (21-12) over the Southern Kings was fashioned by the kicking of Pat Lambie.

The Sharks’ only fresh injury concern is flank Jean Deysel, who left the field with an ankle injury on Saturday. The outcome of his MRI scan will be known today, but he is a doubtful starter for the Brumbies’ game.

Assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said yesterday that Sharks knew they would have to lift their game in front of their home crowd.

“As a group we aren’t happy with the way we have performed, but we must give the Kings credit for a really gutsy defensive performance.

“There has already been a lot of hard talk already in the squad. We know what we have to work on and everything is geared now to correcting that this week.”

He said that the Sharks could not blame slippery conditions for their attacking problems but had to play what was in front of them.

“At the end of the day, we’re not really doing what we can do. When we played our pre-season warm-up games, we let the ball really move around a bit.

“We have shown we can attack and we have plenty of X-factor in this team, a great mix of junior and senior players.”

He said the players were excited about playing the leading Australian team and in front of home support.

“The result is what it’s all about when you are at home. The guys also enjoy playing international opposition and we have to really focus.”

The Sharks face the Rebels, another Australian team, a week later in Durban and then have their first bye over the Easter weekend.

The Brumbies under Jake White, the former Springbok coach, are showing some South African style, Reece-Edwards said.

“They are driving a lot more, but they also maintain their traditional running patterns. The way they dismantled the Waratahs (35-6) on Saturday was fantastic for them.”

The Brumbies have arrived in South Africa without their seriously injured world-class flank, David Pocock, but White said they had the perfect replacement in veteran George Smith.

The 32-year-old Smith is on loan from his Japanese club and has shown excellent form off the bench against the Waratahs.

“He [Smith] played 70 minutes against the Waratahs and proved in one game that he’s still got it,” White told reporters.

“He comes back after two years out of Super Rugby and look what he did — he made big turnovers, big tackles and big plays. He had one week training with the Brumbies and that’s how he went, so it’s great to have him.”

Pocock agreed that Smith would make a major impact. “I thought he totally dominated against the Waratahs. He was superb,” Pocock said.

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