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Sharks must be smarter

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“The guys are flourishing in the way that they are playing, they are really enjoying themselves as the public can see.”

THE high-riding Sharks are back on home turf, along with the attendant heat and humidity, but that won’t curb them from playing the effervescent rugby that produced three wins on tour when they host the Jaguares tomorrow.

In fact, coach Sean Everitt says the stifling conditions of Brisbane last week were perhaps even hotter than when the Sharks hosted the Bulls on 31 January, and that did not prevent the Sharks from winning handsomely.

“We just have to be a little smarter about how we play,” Everitt said.

“I don’t know what the humidity will be like on Saturday but we have a plan to change a few things if we need to, although we are not going to take away what we have been doing.

“The guys are flourishing in the way that they are playing, they are really enjoying themselves as the public can see.”

Speaking of that Bulls game, the match 23 announced by Everitt almost completely resembles the one that played that season-opener, the only change being on the bench where Madosh Tambwe is named this week whereas Boeta Chamberlain was included in week one.

Back in the team on the right wing is Springbok Sbu Nkosi, who came home after the first match on tour against the Highlanders because of a hamstring injury. He replaces Tambwe, who was a revelation on tour but the combative Nkosi was also going to win his place back.

Also back in the starting line-up after being rested last week against the Reds are first-choice flanks James Venter and Tyler Paul

Everitt explained that there was no need to bring in too many fresh legs to combat jet lag because he has been rotating players since round one.

“Before we left on tour, we had planned it so that every guy that went toured had an opportunity to get game time,” Everitt said.

“That also gave us the opportunity to rest some of our key players so that when we came home we would be at full strength – we know how important conference games are and we have two of them in a row in the Jaguares and Stormers next week.

“We wanted to field full-strength teams for these games although at the same time we gained a lot.

“There were guys that filled in for first-choice players and did really well. I am talking about guys like Henco Venter and Dylan Richardson.

“And we had to rest (Boks) Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, and the guys that came in for them did really well. So we have grown the squad as well as grown the confidence of the players who are on the fringes. And at some stage, we will have injuries and those guys will be able to step up.”

Looking ahead to the Argentinians, Everitt says his charges had embraced the challenge of doing battle against the much-famed Jaguares pack.

“We have been criticised over the last five games because our set-piece hasn’t performed as well as it should,” he said. “I think there was a big improvement against the Reds, but we know that the Jaguares are a Test team and we are playing against an international pack.

“The Jaguares have used their maul very effectively. They came from a big deficit to beat the Reds by scoring three maul tries, so we know that is a big threat. But then we defended the Reds maul extremely well last week and that is probably the reason we won the game because we had been giving away so many penalties, which put us under the pump. So our guys have improved in that area and, at the same time, we mauled the Reds 20m twice. It will an interesting tussle and we have a few tricks up our sleeve.”

Sharks (15-1): Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am (c), André Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Louis Schreuder, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Tyler Paul, James Venter, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit, Kerron van Vuuren, Ox Nche. Bench (16-23): Craig Burden, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Le Roux Roets, Henco Venter, Sanele Nohamba, Jeremy Ward, Madosh Tambwe.