Sharks’ path ahead looks rosy

2009-03-06 00:00

THE Sharks wrapped up their preparations for this weekend’s Super 14 clash against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland yesterday morning in Taupo. This following an excellent week’s stay in the resort town two hours south of Hamilton, where they played the Chiefs last weekend.

That 22-15 win set the scene for what they hope will continue to be a successful tour, and if the team’s stay in the idyllic surrounds of Lake Taupo are anything to go by, that success looks set to continue.

Hoards of local residents, many of them ex-South Africans, attended a Sharks training session thanks to broadcasts on the local radio station and in the newspapers urging people to come and watch.

The weather in Taupo was sustained sunshine and provided the squad with the perfect conditions in which to train and prepare for tomorrow’s match.

Justin Downey, flown out as a replacement for the injured Jean Deysel, arrived yesterday morning and joined the squad before taking part in the morning training session at the Owen Delaney grounds. The Sharks then boarded a bus for the three-and-a-half hour trip back to Auckland — it took over five hours thanks to the afternoon traffic — and the squad arrived safely and in high spirits.

The Sharks have had some major obstacles lying in the way of their goals, but having put the heat and humidity of Durban behind them and having recovered from the challenge of an under-pressure Chiefs side, the path ahead looks rosy.

Everything seems to have fallen neatly into place and this past week has been a dream for the coaching staff as the setting, conditions and training regime have been of the highest order, allowing the squad to prepare diligently for tomorrow night’s (New Zealand time) game against the Blues.

The Auckland side have returned from South Africa with a 50% win rate and will obviously target the Sharks to maintain their quest for a top four finish — something predicted by Stormers captain Jean de Villiers following their loss to the Blues in Cape Town a week ago.

Winning against the Sharks would certainly help them to achieve that position.

The Sharks will be looking to maintain their winning record, not only in the competition this year, but also over the Blues who they have beaten in four meetings since the competition was extended to 14 teams.

Kick-off tomorrow is at 6.30 am (SA time).

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