White brings on the heavy artillery for the Sharks’ Lions friendly

2014-01-31 00:00

SHARKS coach Jake White is expected to roll out the heavy artillery for next weekend’s final Super Rugby dress rehearsal against the Lions at Ellis Park.

White fielded a youthful backline in last Saturday’s friendly against Saracens in London, but there will be a far more experienced look to his team at Ellis Park as he prepares for the Super Rugby opener against the Bulls at King’s Park on February 15.

Pat Lambie, back from his honeymoon, will be at flyhalf and White will be hoping that Frans Steyn is fit enough to play at inside centre.

The return of Japan-based Springbok wing JP Pietersen in time for the Bulls game is unlikely, but White is expecting number eight Ryan Kankowski to join the squad next week and he could get a run off the bench.

White has confirmed that some of his Springboks will be back against the Lions.

“I’d like to get some cohesion going with the main guys before the Bulls game,” he said, “but I also want to give opportunities to players who I think might be needed in the next few weeks.”

He said the game against the Lions is a double trial for both the old and young players in the squad.

“I’d like my main guys to be playing and I’d like some of the juniors to also get some game time.”

The Sharks coach said that it was important that the two-week break between the two friendlies was effectively used to iron out faults.

“What I am saying is just logical, but if we don’t get out of the Lions game what we want to, then we have missed a trick,” he said. “Whatever we feel we can add to our game, or where we need to polish up, we have two weeks to work on before another hit-out. And that is great.”

The Sharks had planned their pre-season preparation according to their Super Rugby draw, he said.

“We have two byes in the first six weeks, so it’s not bad to have a couple of tough games now. Had we had six or seven tough games in a row without a bye, I would be reluctant to play too many tough games now, because then it becomes a nine- or 10-game stretch.

“The way it’s worked out for us is we have the Bulls and Hurricanes and then a bye, then four games and another bye. It’s not a bad thing to have one or two tough games now because of those early breaks in our programme.”

He said he and the squad were itching to get into Super Rugby.

“I’m looking forward to the start, it’s time now. We’d like to get going because there is so much energy now with all the new changes, the new CEO, new coaching staff and new vibe. But the next couple of weeks will be valuable as well. What I want people to understand is that we’ve been more without the Springboks [during pre-season training] than any of the other franchises. So from that point of view I’d like a couple more weeks,” said White.

“But I know that the other guys who have been training since October are waiting for an opportunity. That’s exciting — two-thirds of my squad are youngsters, and keen to get involved, and they are complemented by the experience of the older guys.”

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