Nightmare Super?14 draw for Sharks, Bulls have easy ride

2009-09-08 00:00

THE Sharks have been handed a nightmare draw, and a Cook’s tour of Australasia, for next year’s Super 14, while the Bulls will have every advantage in defending their title.

The Sharks will play seven away games and six at King’s Park, but it is their overseas travels that will be particularly daunting.

Sanzar released their draw yesterday and the Sharks open their Super 14 challenge with two home games — against the Chiefs on February 13 and the Cheetahs on February 19 — but then embark on the most demanding of overseas tours, criss-crossing the Tasman Sea four times to play five matches in New Zealand, Australia and then New Zealand again.

They then rush home to play the Reds in Durban before their only bye of the competition.

The Sharks also meet most of the high achievers in the competition on the road. The current holders (the Bulls), the most successful team (the Crusaders) and the strongest Australian team (the Waratahs) will all be hosting the Sharks.

The Bulls, in contrast, have a far easier ride and their draw is similar to the one enjoyed by the Sharks this year. The Bulls not only have seven home games, but also play only four Down Under, starting in Perth on the way to New Zealand, where they have two games before meeting the Reds in Brisbane on their way home.

Brian van Zyl, the Sharks CEO, said yesterday that the 2010 draw mirrored the tough one of 2006.

“There’s nothing we can do. We whinged in 2006 and nothing happened.

“This year we tried hard to get our bye moved to the weekend immediately following our overseas tour, but that was turned down.

“In this competition you just have to show that you are better than the draw.”

This year the Bulls did just that as they overcame a tough draw to win the title while the Sharks did all the hard work on their overseas tour and then went walkabout back in South Africa.

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