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Sharks happy to be favourites

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“They have had one slip-up They are a good team and they are going to be around in the competition at the knockout stages”

THE bookies have the Sharks as favourites to beat the Stormers at Jonsson Kings Park tomorrow (3.05pm kick-off) and while coach Sean Everitt is comfortable with that tag, he has warned his team that the Capetonians have had their ‘wake-up call’.

The Stormers went four games unbeaten before slipping up 33-14 against the Blues in Cape Town and had a bye last week to lick their wounds.

“They have had one slip-up They are a good team and they are going to be around in the competition at the knockout stages,” Everitt said. “They will have learned from their mistakes. According to Dobbo (Stormers coach John Dobson), his guys probably took their foot off the gas against the Blues. So they have had their wake-up call ”

Everitt said the favourites tag placed on his team by Hollywood Bets adds no pressure to his side.

“Not at all,” he said. “Our results have been pleasing but we judge ourselves on performance and in certain areas we have been performing well, and that has been getting us the results (the Sharks have won five of their six games). Our set-piece, for example, has improved.”

And it will have to improve even more tomorrow, according to Everitt.

“They have made no secret of the fact that they feel they have the best set-piece in Super Rugby, we know that was said earlier in the year,” the coach said. “In saying that, they have world-class players. (Sikhumbuzo) Notshe said in the week that they have a lot of depth in all areas, and he would know being an ex-Stormer. So while they might be missing some big names, the guys that step in will be hungry.

“We know what is coming and we just have to front up.”

Everitt says a fierce forward struggle is guaranteed.

“It will be a massive physical battle – the Stormers will come with a physical onslaught and we will have to match that, and I am talking about defence and attack, and then there is the set-piece battle ” Everitt said after announcing an unchanged match 23 for the game.

“I hope it is going to be a great spectacle, and it has all the ingredients for that to happen, and that tries are scored so that we can entertain the people out there and give credit to two good rugby teams.”

Earlier this week, Dobson said he regarded this match as potentially “season-defining” for his team. Everitt, though, sees it differently.

“I don’t see it as a season-definer,” he said. “We are only going into our seventh game, so there is a long way to go. Anything can happen in a short space of time, such as an injury crisis.

“A rugby match is always a contest and that means it can go 50-50, and sometimes you might end up on the wrong side of the result and it could happen five weeks in a row, so we choose to focus on our job at hand each Saturday (tomorrow) and not worry about the future.”

The Sharks are yet to have their first bye – it will be after next week’s game against the Chiefs in Durban – and their focus has been on getting incrementally better each week.

“For us, it has been about playing energising rugby each week and looking for a point of difference to focus on according to the opposition.

“Last week (against the Jaguares) our point of difference was our kicking game. If the Stormers handle that, we will have to look somewhere else.”