Rangy Springbok loose forward Ryan Kankowski has issued a veiled warning to the other teams, saying the unbeaten Sharks have not been playing to their full potential in the first few weeks of Super 14 action.
Jan de Koning writes for www.rugby365.com.
Having arrived in Auckland – after a marathon trip that took them from Durban to Johannesburg, then on to Sydney and finally through to Auckland, with the usual airport ‘transitions’ – they finally got down to start preparing for the first leg of a four-match Australasian tour.
The Sharks play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday, but will base themselves in Auckland for the first fortnight of the month-long trip – with a game against the Blues in Auckland coming up next week.
After that they will base themselves in Brisbane for the Australian leg of the tour.
Kankowski, describing the decision to base themselves at one venue for two weeks as “making it a lot easier to prepare”, also said the team is determined to raise their game every week.
Having won their two opening games – against the Stormers and Lions – the Sharks are ready to use their winning momentum to get the tour off to a successful start.
“It was a massive thing for us to win the first two games,” Kankowski told rugby365.com form the team’s base in Auckland, adding that in previous years the Sharks would often stumble in the last game before the Australasian tour, because players tended to “have one foot on the plane”.
Asked about the Sharks’ ability to come from behind – trailing 0-10 against the Stormers to win 20-15 and 8-10 against the Lions to win 25-10 – he said a lot of it has to do with the trust the players have in each other.
Kankowski admitted that they still have a lot of work to do, but feels that the team is making progress.
“We have the same team as last year and even though we are not playing at our full potential yet, and our structures still haven’t come through properly, there’s a lot of believe in one another and a lot of trust that comes with time.
“That makes it that much easier to get through the tough situations,” he said, adding that they will build on each weekend and keep on pulling it through despite not playing to their true potential.
Asked what it is the Sharks need to improve on, he said there are a “lot of small things” that needs working on.
“There’s a lot of our first phase things that we are getting wrong,” the Sharks No.8 told rugby365.com.
“We had 14 line-breaks [against the Lions] and scored only three tries.
“You don’t often get that many chances and you have to take them when you get them. We are certainly disappointed in that [not turning all the opportunities into points], but there’s a lot of small details that fit together.
“However, when you have such high expectations [winning the tournament], you can’t afford to get them wrong.
“There is a lot of things we’re working on, but there’s 13 games and it is still early in the season. We are working on those things.”
Now in his third season of Super Rugby and with seven Bok caps to his credit, Kankowski – the SA Rugby Super 14 Players of the Year in 2008 – is beginning to approach ‘senior’ status in a well-established Sharks team, despite being just 23.
However, having taken a critical look at his own game the No.8 declared that he is “definitely not happy” with the way he is playing.
“I’m still trying to get my fitness up and I’m just getting into it. However, once the team starts playing better everyone will raise their game.”Tweet