Home Sport Rugby No ‘Beast factor’ so Sharks have to bank on ‘the Tank

No ‘Beast factor’ so Sharks have to bank on ‘the Tank

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There are no gimmees there so, yes, it’s best the Sharks bank their home games

Tendai Mtawarira

LAST week the Sharks were bristling with Beastly sentiment when they blew the Lions off the Ellis Park turf, but what is going to blow their hair back this week against the Jaguares at Jonsson Kings Park?

That was a question put to coach Robert du Preez at yesterday’s team announcement and in answering he confirmed it had been a hot topic of discussion this week at the Shark Tank.

In short, quality teams back up good performances and the Sharks have not been doing that for seasons, never mind matches. Inconsistency has been a swear word too long associated with the Sharks.

“Last week there was a lot of emotion around The Beast’s (Tendai Mtawarira’s) milestone, but what now? It is a good question,” Du Preez said. “The boys really wanted to play for Beastie, and they certainly did, leaving us with a tough act to follow

“Well, we’ve revisited one of our pre-season goals, that of winning all of our home games. But we have already lost two (to the Stormers and Bulls), so it is a big motivational factor for us to sort that out and win this home game, not only for our fans but also because we need to keep the continuity going.”

Du Preez might have added that beating the Jaguares in Durban this week is also crucial to his team’s long-term ambitions in the competition. After tomorrow’s game the Sharks have another home fixture, against the Reds, and then their next games are in Sydney, Christchurch and Hamilton.

There are no gimmees there so, yes, it’s best the Sharks bank their home games

And for this one, the “Beast factor” is completely removed from the equation. Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen are both out of tomorrow’s squad as per the Springbok player management schedule, meaning the Sharks have a new front row but one that will not be short of endeavour.

In comes Thomas “The Tank” du Toit and Juan Schoeman, both of them big fellows on a mission.

“This rest for Coenie and Beast was planned long ago and the boys coming have been waiting for this massive opportunity, they knew it was coming,” Du Preez said. “They have been training really hard and this opportunity is a reward. And Kerron van Vuuren remains between them at hooker and we have seen what fine form he is in.”

The only other change to the starting team is at No 7 where there is the much-anticipated return of Philip van der Walt (from injury) plus the big boost of Jean-Luc du Preez backing him off the bench, with Jacques Vermeulen dropping out of the matchday squad.

Van der Walt has had two cameos off the bench in his return from an off-season thigh problem and Du Preez will be seeing his first action of the year after he came back from a stint in England in December with a groin injury.

“It is fantastic to have these guys back and it ties in with Jacques needing a rest. The timing is perfect,” Du Preez said. “Jean-Luc is very excited to play we’re looking at 20 or 25 minutes, depending on how he behaves!”