It’s time for the entire Sharks family – the coaching staff, the team and also the fans – to accept the fact that we are now favourites to win the Super 14. We need to embrace this standing, earned through hard work and use it to our advantage for the remainder of the competition.
Truly great sides have an aura of invincibility about them. The Crusaders had this for the better part of the last decade – anyone who played them knew that they would have to do something almost superhumanly special in order to get a result; even when playing badly, the Crusaders seemed to find a way to win. I reckon that playing against a side who comes across as unbeatable has to have an effect on the mental state of those who oppose them. I mean – how many times haven’t we seen South African sides on tour effectively throw a game against the Crusaders by picking a weaker side? Opposition coaches know that their chances of beating the unbeatable champions are incredibly slim anyway, so why risk their front-line players?
Now, the Sharks clearly have a long way to go before they can be considered anywhere near the Canterbury side in terms of championship credentials – we’ll need at least seven more Super Rugby titles that we currently have to our name, for one thing! One can’t dispute the fact that, after a 16-game unbeaten streak and starting off the 2009 Super 14 with four straight wins, two of those in New Zealand, the Sharks are starting to look very much like a side that won’t easily be beaten. The New Zealand press, public and (most importantly) bookmakers have all acknowledged this fact. Perhaps it’s time for us usually sceptical South African sports fans to do the same?
It starts with the Reds this weekend. They are a young team full of promise, sure, but they haven’t managed to win a bloody thing this year, if you consider that beating the Cheetahs doesn’t count. They have suffered a number of injuries and are being forced to field a weaker side this weekend than usual – which is saying a lot. I’m tired of being polite and trying to talk up the opposition, saying how tough the game is going to be, and so on. The reality of the situation is that the Reds don’t deserve to be on the same field as the Sharks at the moment. We need to go out there on Saturday and remind these guys that they are the pretenders and we are the real deal.
It’s time for us all to grow up a little bit. We cannot, given what we have already achieved, continue trying to claim underdog status every time we take the field. The players need to be mature enough to wear the mantle of favourites without it choking them and deliver consistent performances commensurate with their reputations.
Come on Sharks. Let’s do this thing!Tweet