Sharks loose forward Keegan Daniel and his team-mates have their sights firmly set on reaching a home semifinal in this year’s Currie Cup competition.
Phil Coetzer writes for Rugby 365 that the Sharks haven’t won the Currie Cup since 1996, and the players will be desperate to fix twelve years of disappointment by snatching the trophy from the Free State Cheetahs, who have won the Cup three years running.
Daniel revealed his thoughts on this year’s domestic competition exclusively to rugby365.com, and stressed that his team is aiming for the top.
“We all know the importance of a home semifinal, and we are looking at trying to secure that semi at home as you would expect,” Daniel said.
“We’ll need to win our home games as well as secure important away victories against the big teams if we’re to achieve that aim.
“Definitely our two home games against the Cheetahs and the Bulls will be key for the Sharks over the next month as we push for that home semi.”
One of the most potent weapons the Sharks have had at their disposal this year has been their highly impressive loose trio.
Their back row, which has seen Daniel, Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel develop into an energetic, productive unit, has been among the best in the Currie Cup, as illustrated by the large number of tries scored by the Sharks loosies.
The dynamic Daniel said that his team’s crack squad of back row forwards could play a major role in the Durban-based tam’s play-off hopes.
“I think in any unit in the team that combinations are important and that players can compliment each other on the field.
“We are fortunate enough to have a good working environment on and off the field which makes the unit function so much better,” he said of his on-field chemistry with Deysel and Botes.
The flank also felt that the extensive Super 14 experience within the team is coming to the fore, and that it gave the Sharks a certain advantage. He also felt that the Sharks showed some real depth, proved by the fact that they have done relatively well in the Currie Cup despite losing a number of players to Springbok call-ups.
“There is still a noticeable difference between the Super 14 and the Currie Cup. I think the intensity and speed of the game are two areas that are different,” Daniel told Rugby 365.
“However, the Currie Cup also tests the depth of some of the unions who lose players to the national level [Springboks].
“We haven’t been that badly affected by the disruptions [of players leaving on national duty].
“Having Boks come back always boosts your team and if there are injuries it gives another player the opportunity to showcase their talent. Personally the changes haven’t affected me at all,” said the confident 23-year-old.
The Sharks have not only done a good job in ensuring a depth of experienced players within their ranks, but have also been bringing through young players who have taken their opportunities with both hands to shine on the domestic stage.
Players such as 22-year-old wing Chris Jordaan have been very impressive given in the limited time and opportunity they have had to adapt to the Currie Cup level.
“I think it is something we [Sharks] have worked hard on, to use local talent from the club scene as well as players coming through the academy,” reflected Daniel.
“There will always be a crop of younger players waiting for their opportunity at the Sharks.”
With Daniel having had great form in patches in the Super 14, there were some hoping for the East London-born Shark to crack the nod in the Springbok training group earlier in the year.
But Daniel is not too phased about the current state of his career, as he believes that he is still developing as a player.
“I’m very happy where I am right now in my career at the Sharks,” he said.
“I think I have matured as a player from when I first arrived on the scene. Right now I’m looking to build on what we have created here at the Sharks over the last few years.”Tweet