White: Sharks will do well this year

2010-02-04 00:00

WORLD Cup-winning coach Jake White and Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis both believe the Sharks will be a force in this year’s Super 14.

The prophets of doom have been having a field day since the Sharks tumbled to defeat in both their pre-season friendlies, against first the Western Force and then the Stormers, in Cape Town.

But White believes that the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers will be strong contenders for the Super 14 title, while Du Plessis says the Sharks will surprise their detractors.

“We will miss Juan Martin Hernandez as flyhalf, but Steve Meyer may just be the physical No 10 that we need,” Du Plessis told News 24.

“You don’t win the Super14 in January, you win it in May. I definitely think we have a semi-final in us and will be among the contenders.”

White reckons that the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers will challenge the Crusaders, Brumbies and Chiefs for a semi-final spot.

“The Stormers have a very strong squad and a great draw. It’s probably the best draw they’ve had in years. On top of that they usually travel well. That should count in their favour,” said White.

“The Bulls have a group of senior players who know what is required to win the competition and they should again be among the contenders.”

White said that he expected the Sharks to surprise their critics.

“If you look at the Sharks squad, there is no reason why they should not be competitive. They’ve made good acquisitions in Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik, and should be among the top five teams. All three of these teams can help one another get into the final.

“The Crusaders and Brumbies will be contenders, and I think the Chiefs also have the squad to possibly be successful.”

The Stormers have been boosted by contracting Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana this year, while the Bulls have re-signed Springbok hooker Gary Botha, who returns from English club side Harlequins, and Jacques-Louis Potgieter, back from the Cheetahs and able to play inside centre and flyhalf.

According to Cape Town reports, the Sharks are currently in negotiations with former Western Province and Boland flyhalf Isma-eel Dollie with the view to possibly contracting him for the Super 14 competition.

Sharks commercial manager Rudolph Straeuli confirmed that he met with the slightly-built Dollie at a Cape Town hotel last week to discuss the possibility of a move to the Durban franchise.

“Yes, we looked at his CV and we know what he is capable of,” Straeuli told News24 this week.“We spoke to his former coaches and even consulted the Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers.

“We are still in the process of negotiating with him and have not finalised anything yet,” he explained.

Last year Dollie was a member of De Villiers’s enlarged Springbok training squad. He has played for South Africa at U19 and U21 level and has also represented the Emerging Springbok side.

The Sharks face the Chiefs, beaten finalists last year, in their Super 14 opener in Durban on February 13.

Chiefs coach Ian Foster says his biggest fear is the Durban humidity. The Chiefs meet the Hurricanes in a friendly tomorrow before leaving for Durban on Sunday.

“Friday’s match will see us trying some new things as well as getting the players prepared for hot playing conditions — something we will be facing in South Africa next week,” he told reporters.

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