Sharks confident after Toulon trip
Durban - Sharks centre Andre Esterhuizen says the team's victory over Toulon last week has created plenty of optimism ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby campaign.
The Durban-based team travelled to France last week to tackle the defending European and French Top 14 champions, and managed to edge a 12-10 triumph against the hosts.
Flyhalf Pat Lambie kicked three penalties, which set the platform for victory, while replacement pivot Fred Zeilinga's three-pointer sealed the win in the second half.
Esterhuizen said the Toulon fixture added plenty to the Sharks' pre-season preparations.
"As a team, we have worked very hard during the pre-season. The trip to France added value and made things exciting for the players," Esterhuizen told MyPlayers.co.za.
"It was a tough and physical game, and it tested us in the way that we needed. Super Rugby is going to be a tough challenge, and Toulon helped us prepare for it.
"The win definitely gave us confidence. And with a few key players coming back to the squad, like Jean Deysel and Frans Steyn, we have a strong squad for the season."
The trip to Toulon was Esterhuizen's second trip to France. Off the field, he said the players enjoyed the time off in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
"It was a great trip and the guys really enjoyed themselves," said Esterhuizen. "Some played golf, while others spent a lot of time sight-seeing around the city. We also got to spend a lot of quality time as a team. There's a good vibe in the squad."
The 20-year-old made his Super Rugby debut for the Sharks last season, and is looking forward to second run in the competition. This comes off an impressive individual Currie Cup campaign in 2014.
"I'm really happy that I made the Sharks Super Rugby squad," said Esterhuizen. "That was one of my goals for the year. It's an exciting competition, which allows me to play against world-class opposition. That can only help me become a better player.
"My goal is to give it my best effort whenever I get the opportunity to play."
The Sharks start their Super Rugby campaign at home to the Cheetahs on Saturday (17:05 kick-off).
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Petersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Jean Cook, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Minnie
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Cornal Hendricks
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