Currie Cup

Sharks revitalised ahead of Pumas duel

Nick Easter (Gallo Images)
Nick Easter (Gallo Images)

Durban - Following a bye, the Sharks are back in action this week when they tackle the Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday.

Assistant coach Nick Easter believes the Sharks are in a better position to play the Pumas than they were Griquas a few weeks ago, but acknowledged hard work lay ahead.

The Sharks opened their campaign with a 37-13 home loss to Griquas, before beating Western Province 32-27 at Kings Park.

"Every team is in a good position now. We had a good week last week, a bit of fun, but we also used that for some conditioning, an opportunity we hadn't had between Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. So without that preparation in a truncated competition like we have, it was important that we used the bye week effectively and got what we wanted out of it because it is such a short competition.It's about how we managed the players that's going to be so important," Easter told the Sharks' official website.

Easter said their effort against WP was much-improved than was the case against Griquas.

"To be perfectly honest, it was a work-rate thing... it always comes back to that," he said.

"Even if you want to win the collisions and the physical contact, you have to work hard. That gives you more time and space to do and see things. We just didn't have that against Griquas, but we put that behind us. It was a pretty stark and harsh video session on the Monday, everyone was responsible for it.

"I don't think there was any issue around getting the energy levels and emotional intensity ramped up for Province, the important thing is providing that every single week. Top rugby sides do.

"If the result comes down to a side playing better than you, or luck, that’s fine, but don’t leave yourself wanting from the point of view of work rate."

Taking on the Pumas presents a different challenge, not only on the field but also in the players’ heads as they raise themselves for the contest that lies ahead.

"That's the challenge top level sportsmen face: staying in the now, in the moment and concentrating on the process, not the outcome; it doesn't matter who you're playing," Easter noted.

He added that the danger presented by the Pumas is that they have been close in all three of their losses.

"The match against Griquas (37-29) could have gone either way and I thought they were arguably the better team in their game against the Lions (38-37) in their first game."

The Pumas lost 25-17 to the Blue Bulls in Nelspruit last weekend.

"Close losses will only spur them on to greater efforts. They are a team that has been there or thereabouts in every game and will know they are close to a first victory in the tournament.

"They will know what they might need to work on tactically and technically or game-plan-wise, and that makes them dangerous."

Saturday's clash is scheduled for 15:00.

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