Home Sport Beefy Lions duo bolster Sharks’ bite

Beefy Lions duo bolster Sharks’ bite

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Sharks conditioning coach Allan Temple-Jones, the man who was responsible for the superb fitness of the Blitzboks for a decade, is cracking the whip over a two-month pre-season.

Rugby player Rohan Janse van Rensburg of the Cell C Sharks during their United Rugby Championship training session
Rohan Janse van Rensburg of the Cell C Sharks during their United Rugby Championship training session on July 21, 2022, at Hollywoodbets Kings Park Stadium in Durban, South Africa. Picture: Steve Haag Sports, Hollywoodbets

Durban – Beefy former Lions players Carlu Sadie and Rohan Janse van Rensburg have arrived in Durban and are thriving in the Sharks squad’s first proper pre-season training programme for nearly three years.

The rugby world was turned upside down by the Covid pandemic and a mixture of lockdown restrictions, invented competitions like the Rainbow Cup and Super Rugby Unlocked, plus the South African introduction to the United Rugby Championship (URC), has meant the players had a gruelling non-stop, two-year season.

Sharks conditioning coach Allan Temple-Jones, the man who was responsible for the superb fitness of the Blitzboks for a decade, is cracking the whip over a two-month pre-season that is concentrating not only on strength and fitness but also on brushing up on rugby deficiencies that were exposed in the URC.

“Carlu and Rohan have joined us and are extremely motivated to make a difference,” Temple-Jones said of the newcomers.

“I worked with Rohan years ago at the Junior Commonwealth Sevens … physically he is a beast and a great gain line player. ‘He is going to be very useful up north in establishing momentum, especially in bad weather. He is a big, abrasive unit and on defence his big hits can turn defence into attack.

“Carlu has also fitted in very well. He is a very big unit and is motivated to push his game time up. He is capable of destroying a scrum on his own, as he did for the Lions against Connacht. He wants to be an 80-minute player and we are going to help him do that,” Temple-Jones said of the 25-year-old, 138kgs prop.

Temple-Jones said the players needed an extended break at the end of the URC to recover and rest up before a busy new season of the URC and the Heineken Cup, not to mention the Currie Cup.

“We emphasised the need for a proper rest because we know what is coming,” he said. “We are going to add some Sevens training tools such as multiple running sessions in a day to get our running fitness up so we can increase our ball-in-play time.”

But there will also be concentration on breakdown work and the set pieces, areas where the Sharks were exposed at times in the URC.

“We learned some valuable lessons in that first five weeks overseas in the URC,” Temple-Jones said. “Coming from Super Rugby, we learned that our detail around the breakdown was lacking.  We fell short there. The northern hemisphere teams exert a lot of pressure at the breakdown.

“Also, their defence systems are a lot more organised and we are going to work on that too. We are going to increase our rugby skills from day one as well as fitness and strength. In week 10, when we play our first opponents, we need to be rugby fit and rugby ready, so we need skill development from day one.”

After the World Cup Sevens in September, Neil Powell will take up his role as Rugby Director at the Sharks and Temple-Jones says his long-time colleague at the Blitzboks will make an impact.

“Neill has a lot of experience in managing both youngsters and senior players,” said Temple-Jones, who also spent four years with the Irish Sevens team.

“Managing players on and off the field is so important and that is where he has massive experience.

Allan Temple-Jones of the Cell C Sharks during their United Rugby Championship training session
Allan Temple-Jones of the Cell C Sharks. Picture: Steve Haag Sports, Hollywoodbets

“And Neil has all that experience of high pressure in the international environment. For instance, when we get our Springbok players back, he will have strong opinions on how we manage the squad best, and how we keep the team mentally and physically healthy over a long season.

Rugby viewers have already seen the impact Sevens can have on 15s through the irresistible performances of the ever-industrious Werner Kok.

“Werner has been special since he first arrived at the SA Sevens Academy at a time I was also working with Cheslin (Kolbe) and Kwagga (Smith),” Temple-Jones said.

“He is incredible with his work-rate and that ‘bounce’ we talk about. He is just relentless with his standards … that intensity is ingrained in him and we will get the team to look at that as the way we want to play.”

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