The Sharks are determined to avoid the mistakes they made in the early stages of last year’s victorious Currie Cup campaign, when the Super 14 season gets underway next month.
Captain Johann Muller, speaking to rugby365.com’s Jan De Koning, said they don’t want to be left in the starting blocks again – the big mistake they made in last year’s domestic season.
As semifinalists for the past two years, and beaten finalists in 2007, the Sharks are rated as one of the fancied sides for the 2009 version of the Southern Hemisphere’s three-month marathon of near Test-level rugby.
And as Currie Cup champions there are even more expectations of them.
Winning the Currie Cup has its advantages, but Muller believes there are also some very deep pitfalls.
“We are in a fortunate position that we were able to build up some real momentum from the Currie Cup,” Muller told rugby365.com in an interview from the team’s base in Durban.
“It was great to win a trophy, but there is also the danger that you go into a new tournament and just expect things to happen … you can wrest on last year’s laurels.”
He said that is the one mistake they don’t want to make.
“We want to make sure that as we enter the Super 14 we are properly prepared and mental ready.
“Physically the guys all look in really good shape, so now it is just the mental side we must get right.”
Muller admitted that they fell into the complacency trap during the early stages of last year’s Currie Cup – when they lost a couple of early games.
“It happened to us in the Currie Cup last year,” he told rugby365
“We were the only South African team to make the Super 14 play-offs [in 2008] and we went into the Currie Cup and really struggled in those first three-four games,” he said, adding: “We played some poor rugby.
“It was only when we made that mental shift and decided for ourselves that we really want to do well and win the Currie Cup that it changed.
“We have certainly learnt from that and hopefully we won’t get off to the same slow start we did in the Currie Cup – no doubt we have to be up for it from the outset.” the Sharks captain said.
He said they are fully focussed on making a good start, despite a very trick first half of the Super 14 season.
“We are playing probably one of the toughest games you can have in the tournament, facing the Stormers at Newlands,” he said.
“Then we have one game in Durban and then we go abroad for four weeks.
“We certainly don’t have the easiest of starts and we saw last year that if you have a bad start and struggle in the beginning, it is very tough to catch up later.”
Muller, despite his concerns about the early mental hurdles his team needs to overcome, said he personally is very keen to get playing again.
“The body is feeling fine,” he said, adding: “I’m obviously not getting any younger, but I’m feeling very good.
“I have to be honest, it is the first time in about four years that I’ve had a proper off season and I feel fantastic.
“The fitness is great and the body is feeling fine. I am very excited about the season ahead.”Tweet