Sharks tighthead prop Thomas “Tank” du Toit has sent a strong message to his team-mates that if they don’t bring their best performance against the Bulls this weekend, then they are in for another embarrassing defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals.
The Sharks (on 24 points) and the Bulls (32 points) meet in the Currie Cup top-of-the-table clash on Saturday at Kings Park in Durban at 7 pm.
The men from Pretoria, who are at the competition’s summit, are not just favourites to beat Du Toit and his men on Saturday but are tipped to walk away with the title in January and complete a domestic double as they have already won the Super Rugby Unlocked.
What makes the Jake White-coached Bulls favourite this weekend is that they have already defeated the Sharks two times this season and scored at least 40 points against the coastal outfit.
During their Unlocked clash, the Bulls claimed a 41-14 victory while during a pre-season friendly the Pretoria-based outfit won 49-28.
“Absolutely massive game for us this weekend and we are very excited for it. As always with the Bulls, I think it’s one of those things now where we feel like we really, really need to up our game,” said Du Toit.
“You have to give credit because it’s due and they have been playing unbelievable rugby. Even with 14 men they produce, and they have been playing very, very hard. We need to be on our best performance to beat these guys.”
The straight talking “Tank” didn’t hide that his side are still hurting because of the way they lost to their rivals but strongly believes if the Sharks can put on their best performance the Bulls will be brought down to earth. “We haven’t put our best performance out there and we feel like we kind of owe them one. It’s a bit of a balance between those two,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s hurt that they have put 40 points against us, it’s really hurt and it’s something we need to rectify. It shows the quality team that the Bulls have, if you are not on your best performance and not performing at your best they can put you away very quickly with two or three tries and you will feel like you are out of your game. So being at our best this weekend is very vital,” he said. Du Toit pointed out that for them to outsmart White’s men, winning the battle upfront will be very important.
“That’s the big thing which is going to be discussed and look through all things. That’s going to be a vital part of this week because the Bulls’ front row pack is very dominant and that’s something you must match,” said Du Toit. “If you are going to beat the Bulls pack then you must out scrum them, lineout them, maul them. That’s going to be vital for us and probably the message for us going into the weekend.
“It has to be an 80 minutes performance otherwise [it will be tough for us], like I said they are a quality side and the quality side will have that killer instinct. They will just bury and put you away if you don’t perform for 80 minutes.”
The Sharks have received another boost as skipper Lukhanyo Am is now back from injury and available for selection.