Rod Macqueen fears the Sharks

2011-03-09 00:00

ROD Macqueen, the most successful coach in Wallaby history and now in charge of the newest addition to the Super Rugby league, the Melbourne Rebels, said yesterday that his team would have to meet fire with fire if they were to match a Sharks side he rates the most aggressive side in Super Rugby.

Macqueen has been responsible for the Wallabies taking the World Cup glory in 1999, the Tri-Nations title a year later and then victory over Martin Johnson’s British Lions in 2001 when he retired.

In his lastest career move he has returned to coaching to take over the Rebels.

Macqueen has been closely involved with the Sharks in the past when he coached the Brumbies against his close friend Ian McIntosh’s Natal team in the 1990s.

He yesterday told reporters of his respect for the Sharks.

“They’re probably one of the more feared teams in Super rugby and I’ve personally got a lot of time for them,” Macqueen said. “And certainly they’re a great benchmark for as a team that’s going to pressure us as far as the basics are concerned.”

Macqueen said the Sharks’ set pieces would pose problems for the Rebels.

“They do the basics very, very well,” said Macqueen. “It’s going to be a very aggressive team we’re playing against — they’d be number one as far as aggression is concerned.

“We’re going to see a very physical game and we’ve got to try and match them. That’s going to be our role out there.”

The Rebels coach said the role of the tight forwards would be key.

“Right now working on our combinations is going to be very important. It’s going to be up to the forwards to play well to give the backs a bit of room.”

The Rebels have injury concerns with three frontline players, scrumhalf Sam Cordingley, lock Kevin O’Neill and wing Luke Rooney, facing late fitness tests.

The Rebels have sandwiched a late one-point victory over the Brumbies in Melbourne in round two with heavy defeats to first the Waratahs and then the New Zealand Chiefs when they were exposed in the set pieces.

“I think we’ve got a big enough pack,” said Macqueen, “but it’s got more to do with our understanding of the set pieces. It is technique rather than weight.”

The log-leading Sharks have yet to concede a try in three rounds yet coach John Plumtree is still not satisfied with the defence.

“I know it may sound corny, but we have to tidy a few things from a defensive point of view.”

“We weren’t entirely accurate against the Force and had to scramble pretty hard at times.”

Plumtree said he remained wary of the Rebels in spite of their heavy loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

“I know things didn’t go well for them in Hamilton, but the Chiefs are pretty tough when they’re in good form. It wasn’t a good day for them, but we saw against the Brumbies how well they can play.”

“They have some real good players, chaps like Mark Gerrard, Stirling Mortlock, Julian Huxley and Danny Cipriani [former England flyhalf] among the backs, and strength at loose forward and the lineout.

“They have got enough there to win and our players have been told not to slacken up. If we have the wrong attitude, they can hurt us. We want to make sure we improve on last week’s game against the Force and that has been our focus.”

There has been a late change to the referee for the Sharks game.

New Zealander Chris Pollock is taking over from Steve Walsh, who is on his way to referee in the Six Nations in Europe and will stop in to handle the Stormers-Highlanders game in Cape Town on Friday.

This weekend’s fixtures, SA time, home team first

Friday:

Crusaders v Brumbies 8.35 am

Rebels v Sharks 10.40 am

Stormers v Highlanders 7.10 pm

Saturday:

Hurricanes v Chiefs 8.35 am

Force v Blues 1.05 pm

Cheetahs v Lions 5.05 am

Byes: Bulls, Reds, Waratahs

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