JP: Steyn could be the difference
Durban - It is clear the Sharks are hurting, but if Springbok wing JP Pietersen is right, Frans Steyn could be the lift needed ahead of their clash against Super Rugby leaders the Hurricanes this weekend.
Speaking from their base in Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand, a sombre sounding Pietersen said that Steyn’s return to the side will be a boon, especially considering they lost Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach (fractured hand) in their first match on tour.
Steyn has finally served out his six week ban for a tip tackle on Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden in round six. The Bok centre will either slot in at flyhalf or centre and the former seems more likely, as the Sharks need a more experienced head to dictate proceedings.
“Frans is a massive boost; he would be for any team. From our side, he gave us a bit of a talk about where we can improve and he definitely picked the guys’ spirits up and he brings so much energy by himself. That’s what we needed, someone to come from outside and give us some energy, lift us up for a very tough game against the Hurricanes this week,” Pietersen said.
There was no doubt that it was an introspective weekend while the Sharks travelled from Dunedin on the back of a 48-15 drubbing at the hands of the Highlanders. It was a nightmarish performance marred by poor handling and soft defence.
It is not going to get any easier come Saturday where the in-form Hurricanes wait, minus their All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett. The pivot is out for four weeks with a knee injury.
Nevertheless, the Kiwis are laden with All Blacks and have lost just one match this season, while the Sharks have lost seven out of 11 games. They are the last team you would want to play after conceding so many points the week before.
“It’s going to be very difficult to beat the Hurricanes. I know they’ve lost Beauden, but the whole team have been in great form. They’ve been log leaders for the whole tournament and it’s going to be a massive challenge for us, but that is what we’ve talked about this week. We need to show character and play for pride.
"If everyone can bring their own character on Saturday, and play for each other, then we can challenge ourselves to be competitive in the game,” Pietersen said.
The Sharks face the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 09:35.