Sharks pair bullish

2014-03-19 00:00

AFTER seeing off the challenge of Wallaby second-row pairing of James Horwill and Rob Simmons, the Sharks’ new partnership of Anton Bresler and Stephan Lewies will come up against Springboks Victor Matfield and Flip van der Merwe when they tackle the Bulls on Saturday.

The Sharks may have beaten the Bulls already this season, but they come up against a completely different outfit when the two sides clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The men from Durban have had a great start to their Super Rugby campaign so far, claiming four wins in their first four games, while the three-time champions from Pretoria were a bit slower out of the blocks.

After going down to the Sharks and Cheetahs in their opening two games that were on the road, the Bulls returned to their fortress and have claimed two wins, to move up to sixth on the overall log.

Bresler acknowledged that the game against the traditional powerhouse of Super Rugby would be daunting.

“As a team, we’ve got a lot of respect for the Bulls. They’re coming off a bye weekend which means they’re going to be fresh and keen to play,” Bresler told reporters at the King’s Park Stadium gym yesterday.

“History shows that they’re three times Super Rugby champions. And, also playing at Loftus is not going to be easy at all. This will most probably be our most difficult challenge of the tournament,” he said.

For Bresler, coming up against the modern day “Godfather of locks” in Matfield would also be a challenge for the 26-year-old Namibian-born second rower.

“It’s going to be an honour for most of us to get to play against Victor,” he added.

He felt the men from the capital would be much better thanks to the return of senior players like Matfield and ex-Sharks utility back Jacque-Louis Potgieter.

“And with Jacques being in the pivot position, he’s obviously played here before and we know what he’s capable of … It’s important to close players like him down,” he said.

Last week, Bresler and new lock partner Lewies did well against the Wallabies pair of Horwill and Simmons.

Speaking about Lewies, his new partner in the second row following the long-term injury layoff for Pieter-Steph du Toit, Bresler said: “Stephan is a great player and playing under Pieter-Steph, you learn a lot.

“He’s surrounded by great players which are mostly Springbok players, so they’re all helping him out … it gives you a bit of a confidence booster.”

He described the loss of the young Du Toit as “major”, but admitted that every player in the team had a vital role.

It has been reported time and time and time again that the Sharks have started the campaign as one of the teams to watch, and could possibly go the distance in bringing the Super Rugby trophy to these shores for the first time ever.

Bresler felt the pressure that has been brought on by the expectation could be a good thing.

“In any sport, pressure is good. We do take it in. But you don’t want to lose the enjoyment of the game.

“By thinking of the pressure, you don’t want to stop enjoying it.”

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