Sharks back at training after time off

2014-04-08 00:00

THE Sharks are back in training, feeling good, and preparing themselves to face the Lions at Ellis Park this Saturday.

Jake White’s team come off a bye, and despite not playing this weekend, they still find themselves sitting pretty at the top of the overall Super Rugby log, and smart money says they should remain at the top after their game against the Lions in Johannesburg this weekend.

As in their previous bye, White gave his charges time off to recuperate, and they now have a stretch of three games in South Africa, two of which will be at home, before they head Down Under for a four-game tour.

Winger Odwa Ndungane, who will follow in his twin brother Akona’s footsteps and play his 100th Super Rugby game this weekend, said yesterday he and the team were feeling confident ahead of the coming games, and they are planning to bag three wins before they leave for the tour.

“We’re feeling pretty good. I think the break came at a good time. We had a light training session yesterday [Sunday] so we’re looking forward to this week,” the 33-year-old winger said.

The four South African teams that were on duty over the weekend did not give a good account of themselves, with the Cheetahs the only ones to avoid defeat, drawing in Bloemfontein against the reigning champions.

Ndungane felt the way the Lions went down against a struggling Crusaders side would have left them disappointed and they will look to redeem themselves this weekend.

“We know that they’ll definitely be up for the game. It’s always a tough game for us when we go to Ellis Park and we’re expecting quite a tough challenge from them.”

The Sharks will go into the game knowing that they have already beaten the Lions when the two met at the Tank earlier in the season. But, Ndungane still felt they should be treated with respect.

“We started pretty well [against the Lions] and they showed that you have to play for 80 minutes against them irrespective if you’re leading by 20 points or 30 points, they’ll still come back. This weekend won’t be any different.

“They’ll be pretty amped up playing at home and they will want to fix things after this past weekend’s result,” Ndungane said.

The Lions of old returned last weekend when they were on the back of a 21-point beating at the hands of seven-time champions.

“We’re expecting a tough challenge and we have to be aware for the whole 80 minutes. You can’t rest during the game whether you’re in the lead, they’ll still come back.”

After the Lions, the Sharks welcome the Cheetahs and the Highlanders to Durban before a tough tour overseas, and Ndungane described it as a challenging couple weeks ahead for the team.

“We play the Rebels, Brumbies, Blues and Crusaders, so it’s going to be a tough tour so it’s going to be important for us to go overseas with a few wins under our belt. We have one away and two home games. Hopefully we can start well this weekend and keep the momentum going,” he added.

Despite the Crusaders’ faltering start to the campaign, Ndungane was cautious not to write the competition’s most successful side off so soon.

“Over the years, the Crusaders have always been a team who get going pretty late into the season. Any team that goes to Christchurch knows that they’re not easy, and the Blues, playing them at their home is not easy. We’re not expecting any easy games on tour,” he told The Witness.

“The Rebels are also going to be very tough. Out of all the four games, there isn’t going to be an easy game,” he said.

“But as I said, if we get good results in the three games here, then it will give us a lot of confidence going on tour, and hopefully we can keep the momentum,” Ndungane said.

Sharks’ clash against the Lions will kick off at 7.10 pm at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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