Cape Town - With the Sharks set to face the Bulls in their opening match of Super Rugby this coming weekend, assistant coach Brent Janse van Rensburg says it's time for the players to shine.
The Sharks have played a number of warm-up matches in pre-season, twice beating Russia but losing 21-19 to the Stormers on Super Hero Sunday.
And with the Sharks having signed a host of new players, Van Rensburg believes that they have brought a new energy to the franchise according to the Sharks website.
“There’s a fresh flavour with new players and new staff with lots of energy brought by the players,” said Van Rensburg, "but now it’s time to shine.
“It’s been a long preseason and it’s nice to get some rugby going. We’re hoping the guys execute what we’ve been training for, and if they stand up on the day, I think the future for The Sharks is bright. There are a lot of talented youngsters at this union, some incredible talent, hopefully, they will enjoy a long association with The Sharks.”
Van Rensburg was particularly impressed with how the the forwards have performed in pre-season.
“The forwards gave a spirited performance against the Stormers and if we can just keep that energy going and plan well weekly, focus on that process, then what will be, will be. But the guys are certainly very keen to play.”
And the Sharks are looking to entertain this season by aiming for a high energy game, played at a fast tempo. Yet, Van Rensburg believe certain fundamentals will remain in place.
“Whatever style you play, certain things remain unchanged, like gaining momentum and stopping the opposition. We’ve made adjustments according to the players we have and there have been a number of changes. We have mobile forwards and what’s important for us is handling the transitional play well if we’re going to be moving the ball around.
“We know we need to be smart in our preparation because it’s all going to come down to the execution of our game plan.”
Van Rensburg also believes that the match against the Bulls will be an intense affair as both sides look to get their season off to a winning start.
“South African derbies are special, the personality of the game changes, the physicality and intensity rises, so I expect quite an intense affair on Friday night.
“They will certainly want to get dominance and go-forward ball, their forwards are good from structured and set-piece play and we expect them to kick a lot behind the defensive line.
“The key thing for us is to handle the set-piece attack, handle the kicking game and to stop the momentum. We can’t allow them to get quick ball over the gain line because if they do, they put you under immense pressure and they get life from that.
“I think the plan is right for the week, it just comes down to final preparation and the execution on Friday.”
The match kicks-off at Kings Park on Friday evening at 19:10.