Sharks captain Johann Muller is a happy man. His baby daughter is lying on his lap and his team is three league points ahead of the second-placed Waratahs on the Super14 log.
Louis de Villiers writes for Rapport that on top of that the rolling maul and tidier lineouts are back in the game. The big lock must be happy?
“Absolutely!” he says with a laugh.
“That’s what guys like me feed on. The more physical the game the better it suits us. The game will become slower. And I’m not getting any younger …”
Muller is only kidding. At 29 he’s far from past it and he admits that he would like to significantly increase his tally of 22 tests.
“The Springbok jersey is close to my heart, but I can only do my best in the Super14. To play in a side like this Sharks team makes the individuals look better. Hopefully a few of our guys are in the picture,” said Muller.
Forty points should be enough to make the semifinals this year and the Sharks already have 26, with six games to go.
Saturday’s clash with the Hurricanes can be a big step towards that. Muller’s direct opponent is All Black lock Jason Eaton.
“He’s a very good player – good in the lineouts, athletic. He covers the whole pitch so I don’t know how much we will see of one another. I prefer to play tight,” said Muller.
“The Hurricanes are a completely different challenge to the Brumbies. They are more physical and faster. They capitalise ruthlessly on your mistakes. But I was happy with our game in the second half on Saturday. One of our tries came after 11 phases. If you can keep your patience like that the dam wall has to burst.”
Muller believes the defeat to the Reds in Brisbane three Saturdays ago may just be what the Sharks needed to get focused in the run-in.
“Had we beaten the Reds, I think we would have lost to the Force the following week. Sometimes you get in the habit of winning and we won about 15 games on the trot, including the Currie Cup. You have to keep working to be successful, so sometimes you have to come down to earth,” he said.
Muller said there was no secret to the Sharks youngsters adapting so quickly to playing in the environment.
“There’s a good atmosphere here. We have a culture of friendship. There aren’t old or young guys. When you play for the Sharks you are part of one family.”Tweet