Sharks look to the Force as wounds heal

2009-03-17 00:00

After the weekend loss to the Reds in Brisbane, it is vitally important that the Sharks learn from their defeat and react positively, captain Johann Muller said yesterday.

“That’s probably the most important thing,” he admitted. “I think a lot of lessons were learned out of that game, and it’s important that we put it behind us and actually learn something from it. That was the case with practice, a really tough day training-wise as well as in our analysis. It was tough on a lot of us and it was necessary, but it is behind us now and we are really looking forward to the game against the Western Force.”

The Sharks captain agreed that one loss does not make the Sharks a poor side.

“Not at all. It’s the first time in 17 games that this group of players have lost, so it’s not that we are a bad side. It was just a really bad day at the office, and what a great opportunity to put things right when we play the Force on the weekend.”

In terms of the disappointments and frustrations, how does the team handle it and bounce back from that?

“I think there is a fine line between the two,” he explained. “You can’t just put it behind you and move on, it’s got to hurt. Every loss really has to hurt and you could see on Saturday night, Sunday and even on Monday, this whole group was really hurting.

“But, by the same token, it’s now time to put it behind us, and I think that’s exactly what we have done. Monday’s video session was a tough one, but it’s behind us and the excitement levels are back up again and the boys are looking forward to Saturday.”

He conceded that the match against the Western Force in Perth was going to be tough. The Force have proved gutsy opposition, and under the stewardship of former All Black coach John Mitchell, have shown gritty character with two wins and a draw this season.

“They are a side who came back to draw with the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend, they are a really quality team with some absolutely brilliant individual players, the likes of Matt Giteau, Nathan Sharpe, David Pocock and those guys,” said Muller.

“And they are playing well as a team, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us, but I have no doubt that if we play to our potential, there’s no reason why we can’t beat them.”

Muller said that there was still plenty more to come from the Sharks.

“Absolutely. We’ve said it since the first game when we were probably 30% off our game. We have such a good bunch of individual rugby players and it’s time that we now play well together as a team. We’ve played some good rugby this season and played some really poor rugby on the weekend, so we need to realise our potential and back ourselves.”

With the Force match being the final game on tour, the result will make or break the four week trip, split between Australia and New Zealand.

“If we lose this one, it will have been a disappointing tour, and if we win, we’ll have to say it was a success,” admits Muller.

“If anyone said before the tour that we would go home with 13 or 14 points, we’d definitely have taken that, so I think this is the game which will define whether the tour was a success or not. So there is some pressure, but we’re a side that plays well under pressure. I think it brings out the best of us.”

The match kicks off at 12.45 pm on Saturday (SA time) and New Zealander Bryce Lawrence will referee the game.

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