Long wait is over

2014-07-02 00:00

SHARKS flanker Tera Mtembu believes there is little time to mope and they must instead shift their focus to ending the Super Rugby season with a flourish, ­despite witnessing their campaign take a twist during the previous two rounds of action.

The competition resumes in South Africa this weekend following the June international break, with one major change for director of rugby Jake White and his side: they are no longer top of the table.

After a highly impressive overseas leg, the Sharks’ hopes of ending top of the regular season table and with it taking the prize of home advantage in the play-offs, suffered a blow when they lost to the Stormers at home in their final match before the Test window.

Then came further bad news without even setting a foot on the field as the Waratahs won their game in hand against the Brumbies the past weekend to take over the tournament leadership.

“We’re a side that doesn’t mope for long,” Mtembu said yesterday as he cast his memory back to the 21-19 loss to the Stormers at King’s Park.

“During the season we lost a few games and quickly got over it. So we’ve quickly forgotten about the Stormers and our main focus is winning this week.”

The Waratahs are now three points ahead of the Sharks with two rounds to play. The Sharks must dust themselves off to play the Cheetahs and Stormers, in Bloemfontein and Cape Town respectively, while the Australians face the Highlanders (home) and the Reds (away) in the closing weeks.

“We obviously want to win the next two games to give ourselves the best chance for the play-offs,” Mtembu said. “Whoever gets the opportunity needs to be ready and perform on the day.

“In the play-offs you only get one chance and if you lose you’re out, so we’re going to win every game in the next four to five weeks.”

White has spoken about welcoming back Patrick Lambie after the June break following three months out with a bicep injury. However, the Springbok flyhalf spent yesterday’s training session doing his own drills on the sidelines of the field and is likely to only make the bench.

But Anton Bresler was back training after his injury lay-off, while another flyhalf, Fred Zeilinga, is also back.

Mtembu has been an ever-present in recent games, after starting the season down the pecking order.

“I had to wait for a long time to get that opportunity, but I’m glad I grabbed it with both hands,” he said.

The 23-year-old, who only played twice of the bench in the first eight games, has now started the last three games.

He was especially impressive on their historic Australasian tour and is admittedly thriving in the company of the world-class loose forwards at the union.

“There’s seven of us in the squad in five of them are Springboks,” he added. “Then you got a guy like Jacques Botes, whose been around, so I’m feeding a lot off them. I’m really enjoying it, but I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

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