Tackling familiar foes
Sport24 columnist Steven Sykes (File)
I’m really enjoying being back in Port Elizabeth. Having spent 10 years with the Sharks, the Kings represent a nice new challenge. We have forged a really good team spirit and the side is gelling well.
We had a great start to our maiden Super Rugby season with a good win over the Force, which I don’t think many expected.
I feel that having the bye the following week worked well for us as it was a very emotional and historic debut for all involved at the Kings.
When Luke Watson went off quite early in our opener, a lot of the senior guys stood up and took over the leadership collectively. I believe Darron Nell will slot in very well as skipper this weekend. He is a seasoned campaigner and his experience adds significant value to the team.
We do have quite a lot of depth within our group and should we pick up a few injuries along the way this season, I don’t think it will affect the team too much.
I’m excited to tackle my former side the Sharks this Saturday. They are a pretty formidable outfit and I feel that they will definitely be in the running to win Super Rugby this season.
In terms of areas we have worked on this week, our main focus tactically is to build momentum, work through the phases and keep the ball in hand for as long as possible.
Maintaining possession for longer periods will enable us to build continuity and ultimately allow us to spend less time on defence. That said, while we made a large number of tackles against the Force, we still had a 90 percent tackle success rate.
I think our kicking game will also be important against the Sharks. I know the Durban side are quite focused on theirs and always aim to win that particular battle. It therefore promises to be an intriguing duel between Demetri Catrakilis and Pat Lambie.
Moving to my area of greater expertise, I have noticed that the Sharks have already changed their lineout calls since last season. However, it will still be interesting when the first lineout is formed. Barend Pieterse has been working hard on our lineout and having also played against him, I can attest to the fact that he is real specialist in that department.
I think we will be tagged as underdogs in every game this season, but it’s up to us as players to stand up to the challenge each and every week. We simply have to front up physically each game, something we did well in our first week of Super Rugby.
We have set ourselves goals for the season. It’s not just about winning every game - I’m not saying that we ever want to lose - but it’s also a building phase for us.
Looking at the overall Super Rugby picture so far, I must say the Blues have really stepped it up from last season. Like us, they appear to be a team playing for one another.
The Brumbies have also been impressive. Jake White has done a really great job with them.
2013 is going to be an interesting season of Super Rugby. Owing to the new law variations, many teams are playing a much more expansive game and fans will see more running rugby.Steven Sykes, a Super Rugby runner-up with the Sharks, represented the Emerging Springboks against the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
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