Sharks stars back in training
Durban - The Sharks returned from a brief Christmas break last week and are now fully into their pre-season training regime ahead of the 2012 Super Rugby campaign.
According to Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest inter-provincial rugby tournament kicks off on Friday, February 24 - in just over six weeks’ time - with the Sharks travelling to Pretoria to take on the Bulls in their campaign-opener.
With roughly a month of pre-season training behind them, the Sharks will intensify their programme of preparation, having launched into a rigorous and focused period of readying themselves for the tournament.
With training starting well before most people are at work to try and finish field sessions before the heat has set in - pretty difficult given Durban’s temperatures at this time of the year - now is the time to bank all the hard effort.
Assessing where the squad is currently, coach John Plumtree explains that the position they find themselves at this stage of their preparations is no different to each year.
“It’s the same as every pre-season,” he says. “You get your players in different aspects of training and those who are in rehab; we have Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel that are under pressure to be fit for the start of the season, but they’re on track. The players have all had their programmes over Christmas and have worked pretty hard, so I’m happy with that.”
Aside from the blockbusting duo of Alberts and Deysel, Conrad Hoffmann has injured a pec muscle in the gym and Plumtree has confirmed that he could be out for four weeks. “But hopefully, he will be okay by the start of the season.”
Assessing squad depth, the Sharks coach is confident that the team is where it needs to be. “If you look at our forwards, there is a lot of experience there now and some of these guys have been playing Super Rugby for five or six years. In the backs, there is a mixture of experience and youth.
“We’ll see an introduction of young players as well during the campaign which is positive going forward. I think we’re in good shape but it’s a long competition isn’t it? If you lose two or three guys to injury, especially if it’s in the same position, then suddenly you can come under pressure. But the under-21s did well last year and our Vodacom Cup side is full of promising youngsters as well so we’ll also able to draw from them.”
The Sharks will remain in Durban for their preparations this year, opting not to go on camp, allowing them to focus on training without any interruptions associated with travel. In gauging where the Sharks are compared to previous years, Plumtree explains that it’s tough to actually decide.
“Pre-season preparation evolves and each year is different to the previous one. You lose players, you bring players in, so it’s hard to judge where we are compared to years gone by. The proof will be in the pudding and that’s how we play on the field.
“I don’t get too excited about pre-season. I’ll wait for our trial and see how we are looking then.”