Ready to take on Reds

2014-03-11 00:00

THE “Beast” and the table-topping Sharks are a work in progress.

That’s something the Reds’ forwards wouldn’t want to hear ahead of their clash against the Sharks this coming weekend.

The Sharks are currently sitting pretty at the top of the Super Rugby table and loosehead prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has been part of an impressive pack that has seen off the Bulls, Hurricanes and Lions so far this season.

Now, he has his sights firmly on the Reds. “I’m a work in progress and I keep on getting better every week, small steps,” the physically imposing Mtawarira said in his booming deep voice at the Sharks gym at King’s Park Stadium yesterday afternoon.

The Springbok forward took time to praise coach Jake White, saying he is a “clever man who knows what he was doing”.

“He has a certain way that he wants us to play. It’s been a good change for us, something that we’re really enjoying.

“We’re playing a brand of rugby that all the guys enjoy and all the forwards get to contribute on the field, so it’s really great,” the Zimbabwean-born Mtawarira told reporters at the Shark Tank.

The Reds are a dangerous side, Mtawarira said, and the Sharks will have to be on top of their game in the set-pieces, something they have been doing well this season. “It’s very important for us to have a very good set-piece and dominate the game.”

The fact that the Sharks’ all-Springbok front row is familiar with the Reds’ Wallabies will also help the men in black and white.

“We know them very well. It’s the same guys that play for Australia like James Slipper, like Greg Holmes. We know them very well so we know exactly what to expect,” he said.

A lot has been said about the Sharks’ hopes for the title so far this season, and bearing the weight of expectation from the fans can often lead to teams’ downfall. But, Mtawarira maintained that they had their feet planted firmly on the ground and were taking each game as it comes.

“For us, what’s really important and what Jake reiterates every week is that we have to focus on ourselves. We know exactly where we’re going and we know our potential, so I think it’s important to get back every week, do the hard yards and concentrate on those small steps every week and not look too far ahead.

“We’re just looking forward to every game that we play every week as a final, so it’s important not to look too far ahead,” he said.

Mtawarira, a crowd favourite at King’s Park, said although he did not hear the loud bellows of “BEEAAAST” whenever he got the ball, he loved the encouragement from the crowd and it was something that the team as a whole enjoyed.

In other good news for the Sharks, experienced back JP Pietersen is expected to report to training today following the end of his Japanese adventure.

His team the Panasonic Wild Knights completed the league and cup double when they beat Toshiba Brave Lupus 30-21 in the final of the All-Japan Championship.

The game against the Reds this Saturday will kick off at 5.05 pm.

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