‘A good start is key’

2013-09-11 00:00

THE wheel has turned for Charl McLeod and he will start at scrumhalf for the Sharks in Saturday’s awkward Currie Cup game against Griquas in Kimberley.

The in-form McLeod has played off the bench in the Sharks’ last two Currie Cup games — against the Blue Bulls and Western Province — but it is his turn to start this weekend and he will take over from Cobus Reinach at the base of the scrum.

The Sharks, with five changes to their line-up at Newlands, lacked cohesion and were disappointing in defeat, but McLeod said the players supported the rotational policy.

“As players, we’re very happy with the rotational plan. Every player knows exactly where he stands, so it’s definitely not a problem for us.

“I’ve been very happy with my own form and I’m looking forward to starting this weekend.”

He said the team that lost to Province was based on rotation.

“But we have a good squad and every player in the squad is good enough to play. So I think we have the team to beat Griquas.”

The Sharks, second on the log, have started all their games slowly this Currie Cup season and McLeod said they were determined to start well in Kimberley.

“We need to be more physical from the start. We fought back well in the second half [at Newlands] and we were happy with the way we finished that match. It’s never nice losing, but we said at half-time that we wanted to be able to walk off the field holding our heads high. I think we played well enough in the second half to do that.”

McLeod said there was no logical reason for their slow starts all season.

“We can’t figure it out, but we all need to prepare ourselves well and get stuck into the game as early as possible. We know how difficult it is in Kimberley, especially if they get their tails up and we let them into the game early. So a good start is key for us.”

Reflecting on their upset first-round loss to Griquas in Durban, the Sharks scrumhalf said lessons had been learnt.

“We fell behind 13-0 in the first half, so if we can sort that out, it should go a lot better this time around. Griquas have a big pack, and they like the physical contact, so we need to match them physically.

“The key to playing in Kimberley is to stick to your own game plan, to try to enforce your game on them and not get sucked into a ball-on-the-floor type of game. We know we need to be as tidy as possible and stick to our game.”

He said that the Sharks were still well placed on the log, one point behind log-leading WP after the first round.

“We have another five games to keep improving, to try win every game and, if we manage that, we’ll be in a good position for the play-offs. We will only get better with time and at the moment progress is going well,” said McLeod.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 3 pm and one of South Africa’s leading referees, Jaco Peyper, will be in charge.

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