Muller: Brumbies are a side on the up

2008-04-16 00:00

Sharks captain Johann Muller admits that his team has a huge challenge on their hands for Saturday night’s match against the Brumbies in Canberra.

The Brumbies may not have started the season with great success, but have slowly pulled themselves back into the tournament and at this stage of the campaign, are still in the running for a top four finish.

Like the Sharks, they have everything to play for and Muller expects the encounter to be really tough.

“We’re going to have to play really well if we want to beat the Brumbies,” he admits. “They had a big win against the Blues in Auckland; they’re a good side who started off slowly, but their injured stars are back and they are a side on the up at this stage.”

Muller was nursing a burst eardrum after the Highlanders game, but he has now been medically cleared — by one of the many South African specialists practising in Sydney — to play

Last year, the Sharks were going along nicely, but slipped up against the Brumbies. However, Muller does not buy into the notion that there is talk of it being payback time.

For the Sharks who pride themselves on their defence, but have also always been known as a team who like to throw the ball around, it hasn’t always been possible this season, but getting the balance between attack and defence right is an important concern for them.

The Brumbies have always set the standard in patience, willing to play as many phases as necessary, plugging away until the inevitable holes open. “Defence is going to be hugely important this weekend because they are a side that likes to put a lot of phases together and we will have to be sharp,” he explains.

With an unbeaten record of a win and a draw on tour, things are not bad at all. The Sharks still have a mountain of a task on their hands, but they can at least drive off a strong and solid platform.

“I’ve come on tours where on the entire tour we didn’t get six points, and we have that after two games, which we’re happy with at this stage,” says the captain. “And we’re not even half way through the tour.”

He also admits that it certainly makes life easier when you don’t have a negative outlook about touring. The Sharks have always been happy tourists and it has shown in the results.

It is expected that JP Pietersen, after being dropped against the Highlanders, will return on the wing while the lively Rory Kockott could take over from Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf.

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