Cape Town - Sharks coach Robert du Preez expects a stern challenge when they finish their Australasian tour against the Hurricanes in Napier on Friday (kick-off 09:35 SA time).
The Sharks will be looking to build on last week’s 60-43 win over the Blues in Auckland, having started their tour with two disappointing losses to the Brumbies (24-17, Canberra) and Rebels (46-14, Melbourne).
While speaking about preparations for Friday’s match, Du Preez identified two important factors - defence and discipline - as absolute non-negotiables for the match against the 2016 champions.
“We know this week will be tougher than last week, the Hurricanes are the No 1 one team in New Zealand in my opinion,” Du Preez told the Sharks’ official website on Wednesday.
Last week the Hurricanes put 50 points on the log leading Rebels in Melbourne and Du Preez warned that big scores are possible if a team’s discipline and defence fall apart.
“It just shows that if you have a little bit of an off day, you can catch 50 points. It happened to us against the Rebels and the Blues against us on Saturday," the coach stressed.
“This means that our defence is going to have to be out the top drawer. We’ve given away too many soft tries and Saturday showed what a massive effect a yellow card can have on a team, so a massive focus for us will be on a discipline. In saying that, we only gave away six penalties, but the card was costly because we gave away three tries in the period. You just can’t lose a player against the New Zealand teams. Defence will win us this game.”
There were no major injury concerns after the Blues match which enabled Du Preez to pick the same 23-man line-up.
“There have been a couple of niggles but nothing serious and everyone was available for selection,” Du Preez added.
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves
Substitutes: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ben May, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Wes Goosen
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk