The Sharks will look to expand their attacking horizons when they start their Super 14 campaign against the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday, writes Jan de Koning for www.rugby365.com
Ulster-bound Springbok lock Johann Muller admitted that “scoring more tries” is a priority for the men from Durban this year.
The two-time and defending champion Bulls aside, the Sharks have been the most successful South African side in Super Rugby – runners-up three times and beaten semifinalists on another three occasions.
But as they look to finally claim some silverware in the toughest provincial competition in the world, they realise that they can’t afford to repeat the errors of the past.
“Yes, I do think so,” Muller told rugby365.com, when asked if there will be “something different” from the Sharks this year.
“Last year, despite winning all those early games, we only got a try-scoring bonus point a couple of times,” he said of a campaign that saw them win seven of their first eight matches, but still ended three points short of a play-off spot.
The Sharks were roundly criticised for a conservative approach in 2009 and now they look to be more adventurous.
“It may sound odd after we have played two [pre-season] games and having only scored one try in [those] two games, but we do really want to give the ball a lot more air,” Muller told rugby365.com.
“We want to play a bit more rugby and chase those bonus points,” he said, adding: “In the process you will probably lose one or two games, but if you look at our last game in the Super 14 last year, when we played the Bulls, that is the kind of rugby that people want to see and it is also what we as players want.
“That was certainly one of the better Super 14 games and was a really entertaining game that everybody enjoyed as spectators and we as players also enjoyed the type of rugby we played.
“We are certainly going to try and play a more exciting brand of rugby this year, if the situation and circumstances allow us.
“As I said, we still have some work to do, but we are certainly not going to be as conservative as last year.”
Muller admitted that the two pre-season games – a 0-26 loss to the Western Force and a 14-29 defeat at the hands of the Stormers – showed that hard work awaits, but they are confident they are on the right track.
“If you look at our last game against the Stormers, physically we were exactly where we wanted to be,” Muller said.
“The urgency was great, we really put them under pressure at the breakdowns. You can’t win any tournament without that, if you don’t have the mongrel and the intensity at the breakdowns you won’t get anywhere.
“We obviously still have some work to do in terms of our game plan.
“The most disappointing aspect for us would have been our defence.
“We’ve always been a team that prides itself on its defence and these last two games we conceded a few too many tries [0-4 try-count against the Force and one-three try-count against the Stormers], but then again, we also haven’t put that much work into our defensive systems and there are a few new guys who are not yet familiar with our defensive systems.
“But those are all small things we can work at training.”Tweet