‘Sharks can beat any team in the world’

2014-07-17 00:00

THE Sharks can beat any team in the world on their day and are undoubtedly still strong contenders for the Super Rugby title despite the tough travelling that awaits them, according to legendary fullback Andre Joubert.

However, the former Sharks and Springboks star says they must first maintain focus on beating the Highlanders in their play-off qualifier, essentially a quarter-final, at King’s Park in Durban on Saturday, before they can look beyond that.

“When they on form, they can beat any team in the world,” Joubert said. “I think they have the capability to go all the way.

“I’ve said all along that they’re a good team, they know how to travel and they’re the best South African team who can do it. They know how to beat teams on the day.”

The Sharks lost two out of their last three regular season games to slip back to third on the overall log by the end of the league phase, meaning they must now go the hard route if they want to win the competition. A Christchurch semi-final against the Crusaders will follow if they beat the Highlanders, ahead of a potential final versus the Waratahs in Sydney.

But despite their recent form, they managed to stun the Stormers 34-10 in Cape Town over the weekend, a result that Joubert believes will instil a lot of confidence in Jake White’s team.

“Like any team, you go through your ups and downs,” he said. “I think the Sharks have had theirs.

“They had a good start to the competition and were up there for most of the season. As they got towards the end they went into a bit of a slump, but I think they got out of it now by beating the Stormers.

“That was a huge result and you can’t ask for a better result to give you momentum. Beating a Stormers team in great form and on their own home ground. It was a good positive result for them to take forward into the play-offs.”

The reality of travelling teams unlikely to win the competition, however, remains with history showing that only once in the tournament’s 18-year history have a team won a final overseas — the Crusaders won the 2000 final in Canberra against the Brumbies.

But the 50-year-old Joubert, known as the “Rolls Royce” of full-backs during his heyday, feels the Sharks do have that ability to change history.

He continued: “It’s always difficult to win away from home, especially when it comes to knock-out rugby.

“Teams know it’s do or die and they have the crowds behind them, so it’s tough. But the Sharks tour well and they know how to do well overseas.

“But that’s still a step away, more importantly for them will be to focus on Saturday and getting past the Highlanders first.”

Their opponents for this week came in sixth on the overall log, but are the only overseas side to have beaten the Sharks at King’s Park this season when they won 34-18 in April.

Joubert, who played over 100 Super Rugby and Currie Cup games for the Sharks, is confident there won’t be a repeat.

“I think because they lost to the Highlanders that will be motivation enough to let it happen again,” he added.

“I certainly think they will turn it around, having learnt out of that loss and turn those negatives into positives.

“I’m quite confident they’ll win on Saturday.”

Director of rugby White will announce his team later today with Patrick Lambie (torn bicep) expected to make the matchday 23 for the first time in nearly four months after being out injured. Tendai Mtawarira (bulging disc) could also return after missing the last few weeks, as well as Cobus Reinach (hamstring).

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