Sharks ready for date with fate at Ellis Park

2014-10-16 00:00

AFTER a fairytale year in which he earned his first Springbok cap at just 22, Stephan Lewies is battling on in the Currie Cup despite a troublesome knee injury.

“I’m feeling better than other weeks, in my mind it’s only two more games so I’m concentrating on getting through this game and then hopefully next week,” Lewies said.

The Sharks have a date with the Lions in the semi-finals of the competition this weekend, hence Lewies’ eagerness to play through the pain as his side try to defend their Currie Cup title.

The Bok lock has been struggling with a chronic knee problem throughout the tournament, but it did not stop him from putting in a solid performance in their win over Western Province last weekend.

He has also formed a dangerous partnership with veteran lock Marco Wentzel and the Sharks’ dominance at the lineout was crucial in their wins over the Bulls, Lions and Province in previous weeks.

“Marco is a master in line-outs and being a young player I am learning a lot from him. I’m just enjoying the experience of playing with him and hopefully I can take all the stuff he has taught me further in my career,” Lewies said.

Wentzel’s lineout experience is certainly rubbing off on Lewies but the youngster has also performed well in open play which is becoming one of his strengths. He made his mark against Province early on last week, ripping the ball from a Province player before shifting it wide for S’bura Sithole to score the first try of the match.

“It’s always nice getting a good start in a game — either making a good tackle or contribution to the team. I think any player likes starting like that so it was a booster for me,” he said.

He will have to continue that this weekend as the Lions boast one of the best scrums in the competition. Their work at the line-out has been clinical which is no doubt an influence of their coach, former Springbok lock Johan Ackermann.

“Our lineout is one of our weapons and we will be looking to use it to good effect this weekend. The Lions get their energy from the scrum and the same with their line-outs, theirs is one of the best in the competition so we have to be on top of our game this weekend.”

The Lions were also bolstered by the return of captain Warren Whiteley, who slipped into the side seamlessly after he had been with the Springboks. Another danger man is flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff. Lewies believes they will be crucial for the Lions this weekend.

“I think Boshoff is an amazing kicker and player and he gives them a lot of confidence, especially at Ellis Park with his big boot. Warren coming back and slotting in as captain was huge for them. Last weekend he just came back in and had a good game,” he said. “But I think we are concentrating more on our own game rather than what they gain or lose.”

Their biggest hurdle will be travelling up to Johannesburg for the semi-final, but the Sharks seem excited to have a crack in the fabled stadium.

“The boys love going to Ellis Park. It’s one of the best stadiums in South Africa with all its history. Recently we have had a fairly good record there but like I said, on the weekend all that stuff from the past doesn’t matter it’s the team who perform on the day.”

The Sharks take on the Lions at 2.30 pm on Saturday at Ellis Park.

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