Sharks hone skills

2014-12-10 00:00

A HEALTHY mix of different coaches has made for an enjoyable and productive pre-season for the Sharks as they build towards the 2015 Super Rugby season.

With director of rugby Gary Gold still busy with his Japanese club Kobelco Steelers, the Sharks brains trust have been hard at work developing players’ skill sets to suit the running rugby that Gold envisages for next year’s looming season.

Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt spoke to The Witness about the ongoing preparations and the benefit of having consultants like New Zealand’s Brad Mooar to help sharpen up the players skills.

“It’s been exciting for the youngsters because we are trying to do a lot of skills development and they are always eager to grow. We’ve spent a lot of time on core skills with Brad Mooar,” Everitt said.

“Obviously it’s a different voice as far as skills development is concerned. I think he’s hammered in the same things we’ve been doing but it comes from a different voice. He’s got different ideas, which has been great and it’s kept the guys on their toes and enthusiastic.”

Mooar’s work with the Sharks is set to help the players realise their attacking potential.

Everitt believes that his charges need to have a good skill set if they are to play the attractive, attacking rugby fans are looking forward to next year.

“They drive their core skills a lot harder in New Zealand than we do here. It’s purely because they’ve got a system from a young age-group so all New Zealanders pass the ball the same way and they are all taught the same thing. Unfortunately we haven’t got to that level yet here in South Africa.”

Silky smooth skills need to be backed up with some solid conditioning work in the off-season which most players dread. But the Sharks players have enjoyed a refined pre-season conditioning programme that will have had the bigger boys smiling.

“Our guys are in good condition. What we’ve done is changed our pre-season somewhat from last year where we are playing a lot more games rather than having conditioning blocks where the guys are running up and down the field. It’s all game related and the guys have worked really hard,” Everitt said.

Although the squad is still devoid of its Springboks (despite the presence of livewire scrumhalf Cobus Reinach who never seems to stop training), there are a number of new faces.

Players from the U19 and U21 setup have also been involved in training sessions to benefit from the focus on skills.

On the injury front, Everitt was happy to report that Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit has trained since the beginning of pre-season and should be ready for action next year.

His return will be most welcome alongside the arrival of England and Saracens lock Mouritz Botha.

While the coaches wait for Gold and the Boks to arrive, fulltime consultant Brendan Venter has been a weekly feature on Mondays and Tuesdays to oversee training.

“Brendan has been in every week. He spends two full days with the team then we carry training through to Friday. It’s always good to have him back because the guys have a good experience with him and they enjoy the way he works. There’s a lot of excitement with what he brings to the table.”

The Sharks kick off the 2015 Super Rugby season on Saturday, February 14 against the Cheetahs in Durban.

“They drive their core skills a lot harder in New Zealand than we do here. It’s purely because they’ve got a system from a young age-group so all New Zealanders pass the ball the same way and they are all taught the same thing.”

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