Sharks in full training with return of Boks

2014-01-08 00:00

THE Sharks’ Springboks have ended their five-week close season and are back in full training ahead of the Super Rugby season.

The Sharks squad returned to King’s Park yesterday after their two-week Christmas break and they were joined by the half-dozen current Springboks who toured Europe in November.

Also back in full training is Springbok centre Frans Steyn, who underwent leg surgery shortly after the Sharks won the Currie Cup final in Cape Town late in October.

Three Sharks, fullback S.P. Marais, centre Paul Jordaan and lock Anton Bresler, will miss the start of the season because of injury.

Two Springboks, wing J.P. Pietersen and number eight Ryan Kankowski, are expected to return from their club duties in Japan early next month.

New coach Jake White has just over two weeks to prepare what he says will be “a competitive Sharks team” to face Saracens in the first of two pre-season friendlies on January 25.

The match, between the Currie Cup champions and the current Premier League leaders, will be played at Allianz Park in London on January 25.

The Sharks will play a second pre-season friendly against the Lions at Ellis Park on February 7, just over a week before they open their Super Rugby challenge against the Bulls at King’s Park on February 15 at 7.10 pm.

They then play the Hurricanes a week later before having the first of two byes — at the end of February — during the marathon competition. Their second bye is also during the first half of the competition and comes just five weeks later.

But White has welcomed the two early byes.

“I think it’s a fantastic draw. Both times when I was coaching the Brumbies, when we did well, it coincided with us having our byes early on.

“A lot of people initially thought that was a negative because it would break your rhythm, but we get two byes almost in the first month, and that’s fantastic because what it allows is for the competition to unfold on its own without you being involved.”

He said it also allowed the players and coaches to take stock of how the referees were blowing games.

“Also, with the 11 Springboks we have, having the byes early on also allows them to freshen up for what’s in store for the rest of the year.”

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