Sharks face limited time to prepare special tactics for Bulls clash

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Sharks coach Sean Everitt will be looking to stop the Bulls’ dominance over his team when they meet in the URC in Durban on Friday.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt will be looking to stop the Bulls’ dominance over his team when they meet in the URC in Durban on Friday.
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The decision to bring United Rugby Championship’s (URC) South African derbies forward has helped to avert another lengthy period of no action for local sides.

But that decision has also left the Sharks with not much time to prepare for the duel with the country’s strongest team — the Bulls.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) and URC confirmed late on Monday that Sean Everitt’s Sharks will host the Jake White-coached Bulls in Durban on Friday, while the Stormers entertain the Lions in Cape Town a day later.

The local derbies were initially scheduled to take place in February next year.

The kick-off in Durban’s Kings Park Stadium is set for 7 pm.

Since the resumption of rugby late last year, after a hard Covid-19 enforced lockdown, the Sharks have always played the role of bridesmaids to the Bulls.

The Bulls dominated them and other local franchises to claim top honours in Super Rugby Unlocked, Currie Cup — twice in a row — and the Rainbow Cup SA.

Due to the magnitude and the rivalry that the fixture carries, it would be expected that the sides would generally need more than three days to prepare. Both teams have their Springboks back from national duty, but it’s still not clear who will be available and who won’t for the game.

It’s worth noting that the Sharks contributed a larger number of players to the Boks than other local teams.

ALSO READ | United Rugby Championship derbies brought forward

While most of the Boks returned to their teams early last week, the Sharks have been without two key players in Lukhanyo Am and Siya Kolisi until this week.

The pair were in Switzerland for the launch of the franchise partnership with the Servette de Geneve and the business community of Geneva.

The good thing for the Sharks though is that the match is in their own backyard and so there will be no need for them to travel.

They are also now used to playing rugby under Durban’s tough weather conditions around this time of the year, which had always been an off-season before the Covid-19 era.

The Durbanites will also welcome at least 2 000 spectators back to the “Shark Tank” for the first time in almost two years.

The Sharks coach is expected to announce the team that will face White’s men early on Thursday.

URC Fixtures

Friday

Sharks v Bulls — 7 pm

Edinburgh v Benetton — 9.35 pm

Leinster v Connacht — 9.45 pm

Saturday

Ospreys v Ulster — 5 pm

Stormers v Lions — 5 pm

Glasgow Warriors v

Dragons — 9.35 pm.


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