Sharks promise to keep title

2009-07-09 00:00

THE Sharks will only be naming their side to take on Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday after assessing the fitness of Springbok Ryan Kankowski and newly-promoted flyhalf Guy Cronje.

Both players are carrying minor knocks and morning practice today will give them the opportunity to claim a start for the opening clash of the Currie Cup.

Despite having lost players to the national set-up, the Sharks aren’t going to use that as any excuse; last year they suffered the same fate and look where they ended up? While lessons have been learned, assistant coach Grant Bashford admits that they can’t gain any advantage from their status as reigning champs.

“Every campaign starts with a clean slate,” he points out. “Last year is behind us and while it’s great to have happened, we now have to start all over again. We do have a formidable pack with some experience as well as inexperience among the backs so it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Any notion that they will play boring, conservative rugby is tempered by the fact that they plan to play winning rugby – however that is constructed. But says Bashford, fans can be sure of the fact that they will go out there and play to the best of their ability in defence of their title.

“What we’ll guarantee is that we’ll get out there and play and really give 100%, the youngsters are really excited about the challenge. We are in the same boat as last year, for the first few rounds we had a mixed bag every week and it will probably be no different this time, but we just have to get out there, put our hands up and make it count.”

With Province having named newly-signed Chris Jack in their team for Saturday’s game, they will be looking to bolster their forward pack against a very solid and experienced Sharks’ pack. He and Anton van Zyl, who made the move south from the Lions following the conclusion of the Vodacom Super 14, will square off against Sharks captain Johann Muller and Steven Sykes, who have developed into a formidable partnership over the past year.

However, much of Province’s game will rely around the boot of Willem de Waal, who proved to be the man for the big moments when he converted a touchline conversion for the Emerging Boks to steal a draw away from the British & Irish Lions recently.

He brings an enormous and educated boot to the game although it does tend to detract from Province’s historic tendency to play attacking, running rugby. It does however bring structure to an unstructured game plan and the Sharks are only too well aware of the dangers his boot poses.

“Willem de Waal is really good at controlling the game,” admits Bashford. “We’ve seen with him in the past that when he’s played they’ve tended to adopt a far more tactical, kicking-orientated game.”

The impressive Duane Vermeulen has not made the match 22 and Luke Watson will captain the side which includes returning Springbok Ricky Januarie as well as another new signing in, Frikkie Welsh, on the wing.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.