“There’s obviously a huge amount of excitement in the squad this week,” says Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt, “but we’re trying to keep our planning and our schedule the same as we have done for any other match this campaign.”
Spirits are running high in Durban, with the Sharks players relishing the unique opportunity of playing in a Currie Cup Final. “We just think it’s a massive opportunity and know that on the day, anything can happen. A disciplined, clinical performance from us is what’s needed to give us the best chance of prevailing.” Far from the Sharks being put off by their two narrow losses against their final opposition, Western Province, Everitt says that the team takes huge confidence from those games. “We felt that last game in particular (in Durban) showed us that we have what it takes to beat them. We feel we won the collisions and dominated that game physically and but for a few mistakes could have ended up winning it. Also, if you look back to last year this time, it was the Sharks who had beaten Western Province twice in the regular season. We all know what happened on Final day.”
Speaking about Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, the Sharks brains-trust are thrilled to have him available. “Bismarck just brings such a physical presence and he’s got such good leadership skills, ” says Everitt. “Also, his lineout throwing is impeccable and really adds a lot to our game in that facet.” Asked about the other injuries in the squad, Everitt told us we’ll need to wait a little longer for clarity. “Both Jean Deysel and Jannie du Plessis will be put through another run tomorrow, to see if they pass.” If fit, both players will start, with Willem Alberts and Wiehahn Herbst the men lined up to replace them should either be ruled out. Apart from the expected inclusion of Beast Mtawarira for Dale Chadwick, no other changes are likely to the semi-final team; however, should Deysel be cleared to play, the coaches will need to make a choice between Alberts and Jacques Botes for the loose forward spot on the bench.
One player in particular who has taken his chances incredibly well is Stephan Lewies, a fact that clearly delights Everitt, who coached him at various stages through the Sharks age-group ranks. “Stephan has had bad luck with injuries in the past, but has earned his spot based on a string of great performances for the under 21s this year. He’s an intelligent player who really understands how to read lineouts. That, for us, has been a hugely satisfying thing about this campaign; we said at the start we wanted to expose youngsters and build depth, while still doing as well as we can. The fact that we’ve reached the final, while blooding guys like Stephan, Fred Zeilinga, Heimar Williams and a few others, is great. All the youngsters we’ve backed have stepped up big time and rewarded us with great performances; we’re also in with a chance of winning the trophy in the final week of the competition.”Tweet