Durban - Ahead of their Super Rugby clash against the Rebels at Kings Park on Friday, Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold has praised the Australian team for what they’ve achieved this year.
The Rebels currently lie 10th on the overall log, having won six out of 13 games.
They are one spot ahead of the 11th placed Sharks, who have won only five of 14 games.
The Rebels though have copped heavy defeats in their last two games - losing 31-15 to the Stormers in Cape Town and 46-29 to the Reds in Brisbane.
But the men from Melbourne have claimed some big scalps this year, most notably wins over the Waratahs and Crusaders, something which the Sharks mentor acknowledged.
“They've won more games that we have this year,” Gold told reporters on Wednesday. “They're a more improved team over the last couple of years, they pose similar threats to the Reds, they have big strong running backs, an outstanding back row, and they’re playing with four opensides.
“The breakdown area is going to be huge, they are very well coached, and you can see that in terms of their structures. Once they get into phase play, they look after the ball. That's why they've had the results they have, against some very good teams.
“We're going to have our work cut out for us, they've had some big victories this year, they've beaten the Waratahs, the Crusaders away, some big scalps and they're not a team to take lightly. It's going to be a tough game.”
Kick-off for Friday’s clash at Kings Park is scheduled for 19:10.
15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Stefan Ungerer, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts/Etienne Oosthuizen, 6. Renaldo Bothma, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Mouritz Botha, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Matt Stevens, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20. Etienne Oosthuizen/Khaya Majola, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga, 23. Heimar Williams
15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Sefanaia Naivalu, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Jordy Reid, 23 Bryce Hegarty