Odds stacked against Sharks
John Plumtree (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Arriving in Australia has never been a pleasant experience for the Sharks, who face a tough encounter on Friday morning (11:40 SA time) against the Super Rugby champions from 2011, the Reds, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Historical statistics are not the be all and end all of rugby, but what is interesting, is that the KwaZulu-Natalians have won their first match of all seasons on Australian soil only twice out of 14 visits to that country.
Considering that their overall win percentage in Australia is 27.6% (they have won eight out of 29 matches there), it’s fair to say the Sharks are probably not very fond of Australia.
To add to their woes, the Sharks have lost their last four matches this season and are in desperate need of some log points if they are not going to lose further ground to the competition front-runners.
Last weekend’s performance against the Highlanders in Dunedin was encouraging, especially considering the good tries The Sharks scored, but it wasn’t enough for the injury-hit team from Durban.
“We worked really hard on attack, but it hasn't been easy losing personnel and combinations keep changing,” said Sharks coach John Plumtree.
“The boys have gone out there and looked to play adventurous rugby - ball in hand, building up some real pressure on the opposition. People who know rugby will see that, but ultimately we didn't get the results, they just haven't gone our way.
“We want to take the pressure off, play for each other, play for jersey, that's important. We're in a different set of circumstance with the team because of the fact that we have so many guys out, we just have to put our heads together. We've sent four to five guys home and we are only halfway through the tour. We've had to change personnel, we've had to play players out of position and that is not great. Right now the focus is getting a team prepared for the weekend.”
Experienced wing Odwa Ndungane, who missed out on the match 22 last weekend, will play in his 100th Super Rugby match on Friday if he gets game time off the bench. He’s played 89 matches for the Sharks and 10 for the Bulls in 2004.
Jean Deysel (flank) and Charl McLeod (scrumhalf) will both earn their 50th Super Rugby caps for the Sharks in Brisbane.
15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Ed O’Donoghue, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Piet Lindeque, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Tian Meyer. 22 Odwa Ndungane