Durban - It was just over three weeks ago that the Sharks put 50 points past the Free State Cheetahs, but it seems the Durban union’s coaches have forgotten that game in the build-up to Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final at the same Kings Park venue.
According to the supersport.com website, while two men shouldn’t be able to make a team, the argument against underestimating the Cheetahs and basing too much on what happened in the league game between the side is a sound one – although there are just a few of them, the returning Springboks make a big difference, in particular their captain and talisman Adriaan Strauss.
Indeed, it appears to be the Sharks’ view that it is Strauss that transforms the Cheetahs from a workable Currie Cup side into a good Super Rugby combination.
"Adriaan is a fantastic leader and gets a lot out of the Free State team, as we saw in Super Rugby," said backline coach Sean Everitt on Monday.
"Free State will be a big challenge for us as they’re a much improved side now that both Adriaan and Coenie Oosthuizen are back.
"They had a good game against the Bulls at the weekend and they’re certainly not the same team that we beat well in Durban earlier in the competition.”
After the loss to Western Province in the final league game, it won’t come as any surprise that the Sharks are targeting the set-piece as an area that requires improvement.
"We have worked hard on our set piece throughout the campaign but we have been a bit inconsistent at times.
"We had 100% lineout success the previous game but unfortunately that went awry against Province and it cost us on the day.
"The guys will bounce back from that, it’s something small that can be fixed.
"With the new combinations coming back it wasn’t easy, but we will keep trying and hopefully improve on that."
Everitt commended the Springboks for the contribution they made in a game that the Sharks were satisfied with in terms of their overall performance even though they lost.
"I thought each of the Boks was committed and played really well.
"They should be commended on that, particularly as the game was played just a week after the deciding game of the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks the previous weekend.
"Getting them in early and getting game time behind them will be beneficial moving into the next few games."