The Sharks will return to action on Saturday at Absa Stadium at 3pm after their bye this past weekend served to see them slip to fourth on the Super 14 log but they will know that their destiny still lies in their own hands.
In a weekend of upsets, excitement and a couple of comprehensive victories, no less than nine teams changed their log positions.
And after their long-awaited break, the Sharks will now face a tough few weeks ahead, with the Highlanders to be contended with this weekend, followed by the Waratahs and Bulls, both of whom will be pushing for their place among the final four.
Craig Lewis writes for the Daily News that Sharks captain Johann Muller admitted they weren’t ideally placed as they enter the competition’s home straight, but added that he was confident they would finish the league stages with a bang.
“We’re not in the perfect position now and not exactly where we wanted to be at this stage, but there were some really tired guys over the past two weeks and now we just need to come back and show the character we have and play to our potential.”
He said the break couldn’t have come at a better time as the team was all but out on their feet when they finished their last game against the Crusaders.
“There were some tired bodies and minds, so this week off really came at the ideal time for us. It was vital that we refresh ourselves and get ready for the final few weeks.”
On Friday, the Highlanders suffered their sixth defeat when they went down to the Stormers, but Muller said he had been mighty impressed by the New Zealanders this season.
“I think the Highlanders have been the real surprise package of the tournament, they were written off initially by many, but they’ve come out and upset quite a few sides. Their loss on Friday will mean they’ll be desperate to come here and pick up some points on the road.”
The teams they have surprised this year include the Crusaders and the Bulls, so the Sharks will be only too aware of the dangers posed by the Highlanders, and will not have forgotten their own losses to the also unfancied Reds and Cheetahs.
On the upside, this weekend the Sharks should be able to welcome the ever-influential Jean Deysel back into their starting line-up, while flyhalf Ruan Pienaar could well return to action as well.
“It’s great to have some of the guys we’ve missed coming back from injury,” Muller said. “The guys who stepped in for those who were injured have done an outstanding job, but its good to get some reinforcements and it will definitely be a fresh Sharks team that takes to the pitch.”Tweet