Muir says he’s happy with the Sharks’ efforts

2008-04-14 00:00

SYDNEY — Sharks Coach Dick Muir admitted that he was pleased with the Sharks’ effort in their Super 14 match against the Highlanders on Friday, which saw them run out narrow victors after conceding two early tries.

“It was unfortunate that we gave them two soft tries early on and that kept their spirits up all game,” Muir said. “We couldn’t get away from them score-wise and that was probably due to missing a few critical penalties.

“That hurt, but it was overall a far more clinical effort from the forwards and the backs in particular.”

The Sharks had a travel day on Saturday, flying to Sydney via Auckland, with half the team having a short stop in Wellington following travel plans going awry, and are safely ensconced in the seaside suburb of Coogee Bay, just down the road from the world-famous Bondi Beach.

The Sharks will base themselves in Sydney for two weeks, make the hour-long flight to Canberra later in the week and return the day after the match ahead of the clash against the Waratahs the following week. With gym and training facilities nearby, and the relaxing environment of Coogee, the Sharks will be able to follow Muir’s plan of switching on when the focus on rugby is needed, and then switching off outside of work.

“It’s nice here in Coogee and the group are living up to what they spoke about prior to leaving Durban, and that’s enjoying the tour,” Muir said.

While the Sharks hardly have the best of overseas draws — five matches that include traversing the Tasman Sea four times — Muir is philosophical about it.

“The important thing to accept is that this is the hand we’ve been dealt, can’t change anything, and it’s how we respond … I think the guys are responding really well and relishing the challenges.”

Jean Deysel joined up with the Sharks on Saturday, someone who Muir admits is “a nice enthusiastic youngster who brings some energy to the group”.

The Sharks have picked up six points on the road, and while that is a good start, Muir believes they could well have done even better.

“It’s disappointing, we thought we were better than a draw against the Hurricanes and we went out to get five points from the Highlanders game and only collected four. But we’ll take the win, they don’t come easily in New Zealand and we’ve been fortunate as a side to pick it up.”

The Sharks coach also feels that his team have started to up the tempo on attack, but this came at a price against the Highlanders — fortunately, it wasn’t punished.

“The important thing for us was to do more playing and I thought we certainly achieved that. But it’s funny, what you drive in the week comes through in the weekend and we were driving a lot more attack and then slipped up defensively.”

There are no serious injuries in the camp, although Keegan Daniel has a hip-flexor concern, which is considered minor at this stage and he should be ready for this weekend’s match against the Brumbies.

• Michael Marnewick is covering the Sharks’ Super 14 tour of Australia and New Zealand.

See page 16 for Super 14 round-up.

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