Durban - Sharks scrumhalf Cameron Wright believes the Durbanites are still very much in the Currie Cup title race despite their results in this year’s competition suggesting quite the opposite.
The Sharks, who are the title holders, find themselves second from the bottom on the table with just six points from three outings.
They are nine points behind the leading Griquas and will be hoping to close the gap when they host the third-placed Free State Cheetahs at King’s Park on Saturday at 15:00.
In spite of beating Western Province, the Sean Everitt-coached outfit suffered two shocking defeats, to the Griquas in their opener and to the Pumas at the weekend - clashes they are normally expected to win without too much hassle.
Wright said the Sharks are still in the race due to some favourable results from other matches, but there’s a need for them to get in control of their destiny. The Sharks need to win all their remaining matches - against the Cheetahs, Lions and the equally struggling Bulls.
“We want to win everything. Our goal is to win everything. I think that should be the mindset,” said Wright.
“A lot of the teams have actually done us a few favours and kept the Currie Cup quite open, with Bulls and Province going down.
“We definitely have to win, it’s a non-negotiable. We need to win all three and want to win all three, but, ja, the Currie Cup is still wide open. I don’t think we are near being knocked out or out of the playoffs yet.
“There are no talks about that (in the camp), and we won’t even consider it. Obviously it will sit at the back of our minds at some stage, but I think if we can just focus on the task at hand and better our performance week by week, I don’t think we are far off the place. It’s just those one or two passes that are costing us,” said the No 9.
Reflecting on their 27-20 loss to the Pumas, who were winless before the clash, Wright said discipline, accuracy and handling errors were their downfall in the clash they looked set to win after leading 17-9 at half time.
“It’s just that the wheels fell off the bus a bit and we have spoken about putting in an 80-minute performance. I can’t say I know what happened but discipline cost us, handling errors, and I don’t think we respected the ball enough or maybe the opposition enough,” he said.
“I don’t think we can necessarily question our effort. Our effort was there. I think in actual fact we might have been a little bit over eager.”
The Sharks will be in for another tough weekend against the Cheetahs, who were unfortunate to lose 24-22 in the dying minutes of their clash with the Lions last weekend.
The Free State side come with a lot of PRO14 experience and have managed to keep the core of their team for the past two years.
“I think they are hurting a little bit, they will probably come hard at us in the first half or so,” said Wright.
“And they like to play quite a wide or expansive game, married with a bit of physicality. If we can match them in that area on the field, I think we are in for a good shot.”