Valke clash could be niggly affair

2010-06-25 00:00

DURBAN — Tonight sees the start of the Sharks’ Absa Currie Cup campaign with a compulsory friendly match taking place against the Valke in Nigel. Kick-off is at 6 pm.

Matches like this tend to be niggly affairs with the smaller unions fancying their chances of upsetting big-name teams who don’t always have full-strength sides. Such is the case with the Sharks, who have named young and fringe players for the compulsory friendly while suffering an injury toll that includes the likes of Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel, Gerhard Mostert and Riaan Swanepoel.

“They will be worked up for it,” admits Sharks defence and kicking coach Grant Bashford of the Valke. “For a side having played in the Vodacom Cup taking on Super 14 opposition is a huge opportunity for them; these games present their players with a chance to shine and hopefully catch our attention. It’s also a good build-up for them for their own campaign. These games are never easy and we’re not expecting this one to be easy either.”

The Sharks won’t have spent too much time analysing the opposition while trying to fine-tune their own game ahead of South Africa’s premier domestic rugby tournament, which kicks off in a couple of weeks.

“It’s more about focusing on ourselves really,” Bashford admits.

“This match is about trying to stick to what we’ve trained for, and hopefully within that structure, some of the youngsters show promise and our experience leads them along the right path.”

With a number of players carrying niggles and injuries, he explained, the squad they have selected for this match have as much experience as possible without risking anyone currently on the injury list.

“The fact that the team is pretty mixed between experience and inexperience is more due to circumstance than intention.”

Bashford added that the aim of the match is twofold: “Definitely we want to find out more about the youngsters we’ve picked, but we do want to win the game; we don’t want to come back having lost.

“We did that in our pre-season games in Cape Town ahead of the Super 14 in January and that isn’t good for your preparations.

“You want to win, but certainly it’s having a look at some of the youngsters we don’t know enough about and obviously putting our strategy and game plan together that we’d like to go into the Currie Cup with …

“After winning seven of our last eight matches in the Super 14, we appear to have the recipe; now it’s about changing little things, trying new things and seeing what transpires against a proper rugby team rather than in training.

“Going into this game, we probably would have selected our strongest possible team if everyone was available, but there are players carrying injuries or little niggles and we’ll get them right for the Griquas game [opening Currie Cup match on 10 July in Kimberley]”, Bashford added.

“This opens the door for some youngsters and the experience for them will be good and the opportunity for us to have a look at how they manage at this level will be better.”

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