Speaking to Rugby365, Sharks captain Keegan Daniel has put into words what many of us have privately been thinking ahead of the new season; while the Sharks did well in patches last year, there’s very little doubt that a lack of consistency during the regular season made life much harder for them in the play-off stages than it might otherwise have been.
“We were consistent in the fact that we made finals, but in terms of our performances we probably weren’t as consistent as we would have liked,” Dainel told the website. “We slipped up at times in the last competition, which put us under pressure towards the end. We want to be a lot more consistent in the way we perform in the games early on this season.”
Saying that is one thing, of course – and doing it is quite another – but the Sharks do have a few factors working in their favour this year. Among those is a relatively benign injury list at present, with only hooker Bismarck du Plessis currently ruled out of action. Perhaps more telling, though, will be continuity of playing staff, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Durban for many a year. The Sharks have got used to welcoming scores of new faces into the side each January but this year there will only be two new-comers, with the balance of the team having been there last year, if not for Super Rugby then at least for the Currie Cup campaign.
Of those that have been added to the squad, one is not a newcomer at all, with Butch James himself a veteran of numerous Super Rugby campaigns with the Sharks. Franco van der Merwe, on the other hand, has been around the block a good few times and if you could pinpoint one key area in which the Sharks looked vulnerable last season, it was that lack of a true lineout lock.
“Butch has been around, he’s been here before and will fit back in easily and will add a lot of value. It’s also good to have Franco here, he will add invaluable experience to the second row, ” said Daniel. “You know we struggled a little there in the past. He’s captained the Lions and has been in the Springbok squad recently, so it’s good to have someone like that in the tight five.”
“You can look at any squad and say it’s a great squad with good depth, but at the end of the day you’ve got to put it all together on the field. But we do have some good young players who’ve come through nicely and spent one or two seasons playing Currie Cup or Super Rugby. Then the likes of Butch and Franco are just going to add to that.”Tweet