Character pulled Sharks through — Bashford

2009-03-02 00:00

Although there was an element of trepidation heading into the Chiefs match, with concerns surrounding the fatigue factor, the Sharks’ weekend underlined the character in the squad.

“The first week of any of these tours is always tough,” said assistant coach Grant Bashford yesterday. “Getting over the time difference is a challenge that you have to deal with somehow.

The doc [Craig Roberts] says it takes one day for every time zone you cross, which means it will be 10 or 11 days before you recover totally.

“When we trained on Tuesday, you could feel that the guys were really down and tired, but by Thursday, there was a spring in the step and at the captain’s practice on Friday the guys were bubbling.”

Bashford said the Sharks have shown in beating the Chiefs that they can overcome huge challenges. “We knew our character was going to be tested as a team and the test was how we would respond. I think we passed with flying colours.”

The Sharks were forced to make over 300 tackles in the match. Chiefs coach Ian Foster was quick to pay tribute to their defence.

The win has set the tone for the rest of the tour as the Sharks take on the Blues, Reds and the Force, teams that all won at the weekend. The Blues beat the Stormers, the Reds overcame the Cheetahs and the Force upset the Brumbies in Canberra.

“Winning obviously makes a valuable and positive contribution to any team,” said Bashford. “But for us, winning the first game makes the tour that much more enjoyable. You can feel the vibe in the camp, the boys are full of nonsense and fun and enjoying themselves.

“It also gets you over that initial week of recovery quicker when you kick off with a win.”

The Blues now find themselves in the same boat as the Sharks were this time a week ago, having played in South Africa and losing two days to travel and having to put up with jet lag. But just as the Sharks managed to earn the win in their first game on tour, so the Blues back home will try and emulate them.

“The Blues are returning from South Africa with their heads high. They will go through what we did, but they will be dangerous,” said Bashford. “They also have fresh players back, leaders like Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino and Joe Rokococo …

“They could also field a pack with seven All Blacks in it, so we are in for a huge afternoon and we just need to make sure we’re ready.”

The match kicks off at 6.30 am (SA time) on Saturday.

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