Up in the peace and quiet of the mountains, the Sharks are getting themselves into a mean mood for Friday’s match against the Highlanders.
They are annoyed that they did not beat the Hurricanes, they are fed up making excuses about the weather and they are determined to start scoring tries again, writes IOL‘s man on tour, Mike Greenaway.
The Sharks had a powwow on Monday morning before heading off to the local rugby club for a training session, and captain Johann Muller says that the squad has resolved to attack its way out of the doldrums.
“Enough is enough,” Muller said. “What has happened over the season is that a conservative mindset has evolved, and we are in a situation where we are waiting for tries to happen instead of being proactive.
We need to start taking risks and to change our mindset to attack. We are going to drive this all week. We are going to Dunedin to attack.”
The Sharks have the best defensive record in the competition, having conceded just seven tries in seven games, but they are off the pace in the try-scoring department considering they are second on the table and unbeaten.
They have scored just 14 tries, compared to the Crusaders (33) who are one place above them and the Blues (27) who are one below. The 14th placed Lions have scored 13 tries.
“It is clear that our defence has been carrying us,” Muller says. “And we must now use our excellent defence as a safety net while we attack more.
“If we make a mistake on attack, our defensive system is likely to come to the rescue. We can afford to attack more.”
The Sharks have indeed been uninventive on attack, seemingly playing to set up the next phase for the sake of it, rather than having a crack at the defence.
“They have been guilty of waiting for the next man to do something special.
“It is true that we have been waiting for the catalyst to happen instead of creating the catalyst,” the captain says.
“And when we get in the mood for scoring tries, we are very good at it,’ Muller says. “When we score one, a couple more tend to follow quickly.”
Muller says that part of the reason for the team not clicking into their best form is that they have perhaps been too worried about winning.
Muller’s forwards have been playing well; the Sharks’ defence is exemplary, but the backs are not scoring tries.
“That’s it in a nutshell,” agrees Muller.
“This week we are working very hard on getting the balance right between forwards and backs, making sure that everything they want from us we provide, and vice versa.”
The Sharks certainly seem stung into action by their performance in Wellington.
It is as if they lost that game and want to make immediate amends.Tweet