Cape Town - Renowned South African sport scientist, Ross Tucker, believes the Stormers will have an 8-10 point head start over the Sharks in their Super Rugby semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.
Tucker, who works at the Sports Science Institute in Cape Town, predicts the Sharks will be exhausted after travelling to Australia to beat the Reds last Saturday
and then back to South Africa for their semi-final.
"The competition's history shows that home ground advantage is already worth five points," he told Die Burger
"With the physical toll of the overseas flight, combined with the bumps and bruises they have to recover from, I'll speculate that the Stormers will start with an 8-10 point advantage.
"Some guys don't get affected by jet lag, but it's very tough if most of your players' sleep patterns are disturbed for four nights over a two-week period," said Tucker.
However, Sharks coach John Plumtree is adamant that the travel factor can't be used as an excuse.
“We’ll be up for it alright, but we’ve got to be smart about our preparation this week," he told the Sharks website
“Everyone will be talking about the travel factor, but we knew we’d have to travel again if we got through our playoff. We’ve had to come back to South Africa and the players are positive, at least they can sleep in their own beds and spend time with family. It’s always nice coming home.”
Should the Sharks prove Tucker wrong they'll nevertheless remain heavy underdogs to lift the trophy as they'll then have to travel back to Australasia to tackle either the Chiefs or the Crusaders - who clash in the other semi-final on Friday.
The clash at Newlands kicks off at 17:05 on Saturday.