Sharks hope training pays off

    2015-02-11 20:00

    Durban - Every team can lay claim to some form of benefit when they host an opponent, be it weather conditions, altitude or a hostile crowd.

    Hence the name home ground advantage, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

    No team that has ever played the Sharks in February can admit that the heat and humidity are welcoming factors.

    The players sweat, they are quickly fatigued, the ball is wet and slippery and the energy-sapping heat relentless.

    With the Sharks spending their pre-season preparing during the heat of the day, there is every possibility that it could produce some gain for them when they host the Cheetahs on Saturday at Kings Park.

    "It definitely won’t be as hot as this at 17:00 on Saturday, at least we hope not," Pat Lambie admits optimistically following another gruelling midday session.

    "The idea is to get training out of the way and have our feet up in the afternoon and give us plenty of recovery time.

    "It is tough training in the heat and humidity, but it is an advantage knowing no other team will be training in these conditions.

    "It does give us an advantage over Cheetahs in that we are used to handling the slippery ball."

    There is no understating the importance of getting their campaign off to a good start, and that’s exactly the focus they will have. So too every other team.

    "There are no easy games so it is vital that you take advantage of home games.

    "And with this being the first round, everybody is out to get a positive result to build momentum and confidence; it’s no different for us.”

    Although the Cheetahs have lost some key players to the Bulls, chief amongst them talisman captain Adriaan Strauss, Lambie has no doubt they will be formidable opposition.

    "They always play as a team, regardless of personnel and they always uncover new stars.

    "They seem to enjoy playing against the Sharks but we have done our homework and know we will have our work cut out for us."

    Having been named one of the four players comprising the leadership group (along with Francois Steyn, Bismarck du Plessis and Tera Mtemba), he explains that this new development is not so much about a title as a think tank.

    "Players will be rotated, this is a non-stop competition and there will be no break in June; this is week in week out, very physical and very fast, and the team that wins the competition is not going to be a team of 15 players.

    "There must be more than one leader and each of the four will get a chance to captain on the day or look after forwards or backs.

    "Day by day, the four will have to lead by example and make the important decisions.

    "I feel honoured to have the position," he admits.

    "Last year I was the vice-captain so the role won’t really change.

    "I helped with calling the plays, even if I did not play much Super Rugby. But it is something I enjoy."

    There has been a lot of talk about playing exciting, attacking rugby, although the prudent approach is not to focus on the outcome, but the process that leads to the desired result.

    Lambie explains that there isn’t pressure on them to score more tries?

    "That hasn’t actually crossed our minds.

    "The fact of the matter is that we might not have scored as many tries last year as we would have liked, but we managed to win some important games and make it to the semi-final, and this year we want to take it a step further.

    "Our focus this year is on our intensity and playing a good brand of rugby, if we work hard enough that will be the case."

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