Lineouts key for Sharks

2017-06-02 06:00
PHOTO: gallo imagesEtienne Oosthuizen, pictured here against Guido Petti of the Jaguares this year, will trot out for his 50th Super Rugby match for the Sharks on Saturday.

PHOTO: gallo imagesEtienne Oosthuizen, pictured here against Guido Petti of the Jaguares this year, will trot out for his 50th Super Rugby match for the Sharks on Saturday.

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THE Sharks welcome the Stormers to Growthpoint King’s Park on Saturday for what should be a typical Super Rugby derby — tough, hard and physical.

Back on home soil after losing to the Kings in Port Elizabeth and then beating the Sunwolves in Singapore over the past fortnight, the Sharks will want to continue their unbeaten home record this season against a strong Stormers.

Although the Stormers took a battering on their New Zealand tour, where they conceded 155 points while scoring only 60 in three matches, they dug deep to beat the Blues 30-22 at Newlands last week.

The Sharks, with a new-look backline, were full of running in Singapore and the pack has remained solid and consistent, especially in the lineout.

On Saturday the Sharks will need to stick to what has worked for them, and top of this list is lineouts.

The Sharks boast the best lineout stats in this year’s Super Rugby campaign to date and one of the key factors in achieving this statistic is Etienne Oosthuizen (24), who trots out for his 50th Super Rugby match for the Sharks on Saturday.

Oosthuizen seems to have reached the milestone virtually under the radar, but it’s something he is proud of, especially doing it for the Sharks.

“It’s a massive privilege and honour to reach 50 Super Rugby caps for the Sharks. I am one of the youngsters in the squad, but feel like a senior player, suddenly getting 50 caps,” he said.

Oosthuizen’s only blemish this season was a two-week suspension picked up in the opening encounter against the Reds, but since then he has been part of a lock trio consisting of himself, Ruan Botha and Stephan Lewies, giving coach Robert du Preez the freedom to rotate when announcing his weekly teams.

One of the anticipated rivalries will be between Oosthuizen and fiery Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth, the latter being his characteristic self in standing his ground and taking the fight to the opposition.

“Controlled aggression is what it’s about. We have to stand our ground and not back down, but in doing that, we must not give away unnecessary penalties or yellow cards,” said Oosthuizen. “Composure is vital and, although they might try to get under our skin, we must keep our heads and concentrate on the task at hand.”

Saturday’s game starts at 5.15 pm and is telecast on SuperSport 1.

sport@witness.co.za

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