“The set pieces were not good last week and we have not shied away from fixing it”
THE Sharks feel they know exactly what to expect from the Rebels on Saturday given they are coached by South African Dave Wessels, who has his own definite template on how the game should be played.
Sharks and Springbok centre André Esterhuizen said the Sharks had gone to school on the Rebels’ season thus far, which has seen them lose away to the Sunwolves and Brumbies but win at home (last week) against the Waratahs.
“I have played them a few times now and they’re a good team,” said Esterhuizen from Melbourne.
“They can be conservative at times but with ball in hand can also be very dangerous. They like to move the ball around and have certain guys who strike well for them. Stopping those guys is what we are working on – we want to take the strength from their team.”
Esterhuizen says the Rebels kick more than the other Australian sides.
“Their kicking game is strong and you can see it is handled by a South African. They don’t like playing in their own half and they like mauling and keeping the ball. Their objective is to camp in the opposition 22. But every game is one we can win if we pitch on the day and we are confident we can do the job on Saturday.”
Esterhuizen and his fellow backs would relish having more possession than they did against the Hurricanes last week and lock Ruben van Heerden promises this will come to pass.
“The set pieces were not good last week and we have not shied away from fixing it,” the 22-year-old said.
“We feel the days of our scrum and line-out struggling are gone now. We have addressed it. This week you are going to see a different animal when it comes to the set pieces.
“Our forward pack is underestimated but we enjoy being written off,” he said. “We want people to underestimate us because we feel that in general we are getting stronger and stronger, and growing each week.
“We don’t see ourselves as less than any other pack and we won’t stand back for any one. I don’t know why people write us off but I am pleased they do because it is a cool position to be in.”
Regarding the Sharks’ wayward line-out, Van Heerden promised that the backline’s frustrations at the lost possession are over.
“It has been a heavy focus for us this week. You are definitely going to see something different from our line-out on Saturday – it is going to be a good attacking platform for us. We have such a potent backline and we want to give them the best possible opportunities to attack.”
Van Heerden pointed out that the scrumming was adversely affected by late changes to the front row. “Last week we were thrown in the deep end a bit because of circumstances beyond our control. Thomas (du Toit) got sick, Ox (Nche) had to move to the bench to cover tighthead. But having said that, the guys recovered and actually did relatively well, all things considered.”