Durban - Sharks assistant coach Paul Anthony says they will be out to play a more attacking brand of rugby in 2015.
The Sharks developed a more conservative approach with Jake White as coach last year, and Anthony hinted that things would change in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
“It’s going to be attacking rugby, but not stupid attacking rugby,” Anthony told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick. “We’re going to put a solid blend in, no-one wants to be predictable and you want to allow the players to play what they see in front of them, to play the space and really give them license to have a go.”
And the license granted to the players is to take a chance, if they believe it is well and truly on. Safe is low risk but low reward and the players are encouraged to play more exciting rugby when they know the reward is expected to outstrip the risk.
“If it’s on, they have a go, but our key decision-makers determine that. If they have a go and slip up trying to force the off-load, we’re going to be OK with that.”
And you can’t play this kind of high intensity rugby when energy levels are low.
“The environment makes the energy and the environment is massive at the moment which leads to positive energy and that is transferred into the way we are training. And we’re looking to take the energy and that positivity into the Super Rugby competition.
“We’re calling the energy we’re putting in ‘Buzz Lightyear’: we want to go to infinity and beyond. But obviously we need to be sensible, it’s Super Rugby, you’re up against sides with massive defensive so you don’t want to be stupid; you want to do things in the right places on the field.”
Besides the energy necessary to integrate and implement a high intensity style of play is the ability to complete the actions at pace. “We’re putting in the right skill sets, we’ve worked hard on the skills to develop those we never had, and hopefully that will come through. Obviously there will be slip-ups, we will spill ball, we will make mistakes, but we just need to keep playing and we’ll get it right.
“We’re probably running and gymming harder than ever, but the running is replicating what we are going to be doing in the match. That’s the difference; it’s not aimless running, it’s game-directed.”
Does he believe the squad is close to where they want to be with a month to go before the start of Super Rugby?
“We’re definitely getting there,” says Anthony. “There are a few weeks to tune things, we do anticipate being a bit loose in the pre-season games, but we will just get better and better, there’s no doubt about it.”
The Sharks are scheduled to play a mixed Rovers-Collegians club side towards the end of January for their first warm-up match and a week later they play Toulon in France.
They start their Super Rugby campaign at home against the Cheetahs on February 14.