Vodacom Super Rugby
Whitehead prefers Sharks style
Tim Whitehead (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks centre Tim Whitehead says he relished the freedom given to attack with the team in comparison to the style of play at his previous employers, the Stormers.
The 23-year-old has been a regular fixture in his debut season, with his centre combination with Springbok JP Pietersen, one of the features so far.
"A change was good for me coming from Cape Town because I felt like I needed a new beginning somewhere," Whitehead said on Tuesday.
"In terms of the game plan, I think the Stormers play a bit more defensive than attack.
"And here I enjoy the way that the guys always attack.
"We’re encouraged to have a go from everywhere as long as you back yourself and that’s what we’ve been doing this year."
The Sharks have had an inconsistent first half of the competition, which has been dogged by basic errors, consequently they sit seventh on the combined log - three points outside the playoff places.
After seeing off the in-form Highlanders this past weekend, they welcome the struggling Force to Durban this week.
"They may have been poor, but they’re a good side," said Whitehead of the Australians, who are third from the bottom on the log.
"There are no easy games in this competition and every single team brings something different, so it’s going to be tough.
"We’ll have to work really hard to beat them."
The visitors will be led by David Pocock, widely seen as one of the best flankers in the game.
Whitehead conceded they will have to be at their best to nullify his threat.
"We’ve been working really hard on our breakdown and will have to be prepared for someone like Pocock, who is one of the best fetchers in the world," he said.
"It’s going to be physical and we’ll have to be prepared for that threat."
Sharks coach John Plumtree also hailed the impact that Whitehead has had since his arrival from Cape Town.
"I think Tim’s been great," he said.
"He’s a player I targeted from a fair while ago. Now that he’s here, he’s doing really well.
"I think he’s getting better and better each week and has got a desire to get better, which is important.
"He’s very unpredictable on attack and defensively he’s very sound.
"Hopefully he’ll just grow in our environment and enjoy his rugby."
Plumtree, for the first time this season, also confirmed a clean bill of health in the team.
"We have no-one injured and although we were a bit light in training as some players were being managed," Plumtree said.
"We should have a full complement to choose from at the weekend."