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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Robert du Preez © BackpagePix

Sharks target forward domination



The Cell C Sharks will be targeting forward domination as the critical step towards getting their Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia off to a winning start.

The Sharks begin their tour against the Brumbies in Canberra at the weekend and will not need reminding that the Brumbies may be the easier of the opponents they will face in a tour that is longer than what the other South African teams will undertake when they head to Australia and New Zealand.

After the Brumbies game, the Sharks face the Rebels in Melbourne, the Blues in Auckland and then the Hurricanes in Wellington – in other words, if you look at current form, it gets progressively tougher.

Sharks coach Robert du Preez has noted though that the Brumbies, although they have had a woeful start to the season and have been on the road most of the time, have shown glimpses of promise. He reckons they could be dangerous on their home field.

“After reviewing their game against the Rebels, we reckon the Brumbies played a lot of rugby in that game and were unlucky not to score more tries, so I don’t think we should read too much into last weekend,” said Du Preez.

“It is going to be a big big game for both teams as we have to start the tour well and they need to bounce back and get their campaign on track in their home game.”

Du Preez told a teleconference with the media after his squad’s arrival in the Sydney seaside suburb of Coogee, where they will stay until they transfer to Canberra on Friday, that he would be looking for a physical onslaught from his pack against what he considers to be a strong opposition unit.

“In our review of how they play we have seen a lot of lineout driving. They have quite a formidable pack of forwards. They like to drive and they like to play a lot of rugby. They maybe play a little more than they did in the past (when they were coached by Stephen Larkham). They are not scared of running the ball from their own territory and even from out of their own 22.

“If you give them possession and opportunities they will pounce on them. So we will have to control them. We will go out to dominate their pack. We will be looking for a very physical effort from our forwards. It will all start and end there.”

The Sharks travelled to Australia without the experienced former captain, Keegan Daniel, with newcomer Wian Vosloo being preferred to him, while Springbok Jean-Luc du Preez is back from injury. Du Preez said he had made the selections with current form in mind.

“We have always said we will select the team on merit and we felt that Wian did a really good job for us against the Sunwolves on Saturday. I was very happy with his performance and comfortable selecting him for this tour. And now that Jean-Luc is on the way back that was a natural choice for us.”

The Sharks should be bolstered on Saturday by the return to the front row of Thomas du Toit. Although criticised after the opening game against the Lions, where he was tried as a tighthead, Du Toit said he was happy with the switch in positions. In fact, he said he has always wanted to play in the No 3 jersey and has not intention of returning to loosehead.

The Sharks arrived in Sydney at 3.30pm on Monday and immediately went into the sea for a recovery session. Du Preez said that he was pleased with the energy levels shown by his players after the long flight from Durban via Johannesburg and said that the early training sessions in the build-up week to the Brumbies game had been “really good”.

The Sharks team for the Brumbies game will be named on Thursday.



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