Franco loving life at the Sharks
Durban - On-loan Sharks lock Franco van der Merwe is relishing his time in Durban thus far, admitting on Tuesday he has been given a lot more freedom to play his natural game at Kings Park.
The 30-year-old is one of several Lions players that have been released to play around the country following the Johannesburg franchise's relegation from the Super XV.
And he has largely been credited as one of the main reasons for a much more stable lineout at the Sharks.
"It’s funny how many things actually stay the same," Van Der Merwe said.
"The big thing that obviously is different is the personnel you’re working with.
"There’s been one or two things that are different, I mean at the Lions we had our set ways of playing, whereas here it’s little less structured and they allow you more freedom to play and you have the options to do a few things more than I’m used to.
"There’s a little bit of an adaptation, but I’ve settled in nicely."
Van der Merwe has been a fixture in the second row so far this season, starting all the games alongside either Anton Bresler or Pieter-Steph du Toit.
However, he played down his importance to the Sharks' set-piece.
"I think we’ve just simplified the lineout and gone back to basics as a team,” he said.
"I remember we started in the beginning of the year with just two lineouts and that’s the main thing we’ve been doing ever since. It was one of main objectives."
The Durbanites currently sit top of the South African Conference standings and third overall ahead of their trip to the Stormers on Saturday, who they beat 12-6 at home earlier in the competition.
But the men from Cape Town have continued to struggle since then, losing four out of six games, but Van der Merwe warned they will be a massive threat on Saturday.
"I think when you’re in desperate time, trying to force things to happen makes it even more difficult,” he said.
"Maybe that’s what they’ve been doing. But they’re a strong side, they’ve shown they can beat the best by beating the Brumbies and the Chiefs, so it’s going to be a big challenge."