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    Sharks ready to launch season

    2014-02-05 10:29
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    Durban - The Sharks take on the Lions at Ellis Park this Friday evening in their second and final pre-season match before the start of the 2014 Super Rugby competition.

    According to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick, there is energy and excitement in the camp as the tournament creeps closer and closer, with the Bulls coming to Durban to play in the opening match at Kings Park on February 15.

    It’s been a long pre-season - since November last year - but without a solid platform from which to launch, sustained success is impossible.

    Chatting about the pre-season training regime, assistant coach Sean Everitt admitted to being very positive about one of the toughest and most intense periods on the rugby calendar.

    “It was good to start a couple of weeks earlier this pre-season, the guys had a long time up until Christmas to get the new calls and to put new structures in place,” said Everitt

     “Obviously it wasn’t easy for the players because they had learned new ones in the Currie Cup. But the time we had before Christmas was very precious to us and when the Springboks joined us, they really stepped up to the plate and have led from the front. They’ve made practices enjoyable and their enthusiasm must be commended, that was evident in their performances in the game against Saracens. It’s clear they mean to do business this year.”

    Each year, every team ups the training to say they are fitter and stronger than ever before. But surely there is a limit to what can be accomplished before players start breaking down. There has to be a balance between pushing more and pushing smarter.

    “Our pre-season had to be different because there was a lot of organisation that we had to put in place with the new structures,” Everitt admitted.

    “But there has to be a fine balance: over-training can be more damaging than the players being under-trained. We’ve had to manage the players, there are times when the medical staff will tell us to back-off a little bit and we’ll then give the guys a lighter week.

    “But we have pretty much planned our campaign and know which weeks we will take the foot off the gas and where we will push them hard. We’ve been very fortunate up until now that there have been no serious injuries and we’re certainly in a far better place as far as injuries are concerned than we were this time last year.”

    The first hit-out - a 23-15 loss to Saracens - was a valuable exercise for their planning and preparation and both players and coaches benefitted.

    “This game was always going to be tough for the players; it was very useful for us as coaching staff to have a look at the players, look at their abilities and obvious see some of the things we’ve put in place at training get executed in the game scenario.

    “I think the boxes we wanted to tick on completion of the game were ticked. It was a good experience for the players also to travel abroad and play against opposition like that. There were a lot of opportunities that were created that unfortunately we didn’t finish off, but the result wasn’t really what mattered, but rather the boxes that had to be ticked.”

    On Friday evening, they will be taking on the Lions at Ellis Park in their final hit-out and there are a few things they are hoping to get out of this game.

    “First of all, from a conditioning point of view, the guys need some game time under the belt, especially from a physical point of view,” he explained. “And secondly, there are a few things we want to try and see where we are as a team.

    “But, at the end of the day, after the Lions game on Friday night, we’re a week away from the start of the competition so we need to be on top of our game and we’re expecting the players to be equally prepared.”

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    19 April 2014
    • Chiefs v Crusaders, Hamilton 09:35
    • Waratahs v Bulls, Sydney 11:40
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 15:00
    • Stormers v Lions, Cape Town 17:05
    25 April 2014
    • Blues v Waratahs, Auckland 07:35
    • Brumbies v Chiefs, Canberra 09:40
    • Sharks v Highlanders, Durban 19:10
    26 April 2014
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    • Western Force v Bulls, Perth 11:40
    • Cheetahs v Stormers, Bloemfontein 17:05

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