Pietermaritzburg - The Sharks are back home after their highly successful two-match tour of France and the good news is that the win over Toulouse, unlike the one over Toulon, did not come at a price.
Head coach Gary Gold confirmed that there were no fresh injuries in Thursday night’s game in Toulouse after the Sharks lost Pat Lambie, locks Ruan Botha and Giant Mtyanda, and backrower Francois Kleinhans against Toulon.
The new-look Sharks played with courage and confidence on tour and it was the confidence and intensity of the team, both on attack and defence, rather than the individual highlights which would have most pleased Gold.
Still, Gold did pay tribute to a number of the more experienced players in the squad with flank Marcell Coetzee, in his last season for the Sharks before joining Ulster, heading the list after his committed effort against Toulouse.
“Marcell really stepped up in captaining the side in the absence of Pat [Lambie] and Beast [Mtawarira]. It’s good that we have strength in depth from a leadership point of view
“I also thought Willie le Roux’s leadership was very good in his first game for the Sharks and Michael Claassens was also impressive.”
He said he was satisfied with the advances made during the tour.
“I’m very happy with the way it went. It was a bittersweet feeling after the Toulon game. We had a good result, but the loss of Pat [Lambie] was a really devastating blow for us. We’re really happy to come away with the performance we did against Toulouse, and luckily with no major injuries.”
The Sharks now have a two-week break before they open their Super Rugby campaign against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on February 27.
“I’m confident and excited for the season ahead but, in saying that, there are things we need to be really hard on ourselves and need to improve. We haven’t won anything yet, so it’s important that we keep our feet on the ground and stay humble. We have to continue to put in the hard yards.”