Durban - Sharks captain Keegan Daniel said there was no point trying to influence who they may or may not face in the playoff stages of Super Rugby, adding 'you have to beat the best to be the best'.
The Sharks face the Cheetahs in their final regular season match on Saturday, and by the time they take to the Kings Park field, will have an idea of what they need to do to secure a top-six finish.
As the overall log presently stands, John Plumtree’s sixth-placed team will travel to Canberra to play the Brumbies in the next stage, while the fifth-placed Bulls will have the unenviable task of heading to Christchurch to play seven-time champions, the Crusaders.
“For us we’re going to approach it like we would to any other game,” Daniel told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We’ll have the same mindset, which is win the game first.
“No matter where we are, we’re not going to be on the field thinking let’s not score another try or we might be heading to the Crusaders.
“Obviously it’s a shorter trip to Australia, but somewhere along the line you’re going to have to play the top teams and win away from home to win the competition.
“This is going to be our last game at home. So we’re going to have to win away from home anyway.”
There are several scenarios for the Sharks, who can even make the playoffs with a loss if the Reds and Hurricanes fail to take anything from their matches against the Waratahs and Chiefs respectively, while a win can take them as high as fourth if the Crusaders lose to the Force and the Bulls slip up against the Lions.
The Cheetahs on the other hand are playing for pride, but Daniel is still expecting a tough derby against the men from Bloemfontein.
“I don’t think they’ll change their approach much just because it’s the last game and they’re out of the competition,” he said.
“It’s going to be another South African encounter between two teams that want to dominate up front.”
The Sharks turned in one of their most memorable performances in recent years when they crushed the Bulls 32-10 over the weekend to stay alive in the competition.
“That’s the nature of sport, everyone just seemed to be on the same page on Friday night and it just shows what we’re capable of.
“In my opinion I think it was our most clinical performance of the year, all the players really put their hands up and everyone played really well.” Meanwhile, Springbok pair Willem Alberts and Patrick Lambie along with Steven Sykes and Jacques Botes, who all missed the Bulls game, trained on Monday and are expected to be available for selection.
Junior Boks Paul Jordaan and Pieter-Steph du Toit are major doubts, though, with coach John Plumtree conceding that the former is “still a concern”, while he rated the latter as a “long shot” to play.