Durban - Sharks head coach Robert du Preez admitted on the eve of our team’s departure to Australia that narrowing down his 45-man Super Rugby squad into a 27-man touring squad was not easy.
Despite a rigorous programme of pre-season training, the players in the Sharks squad have all put in hundreds of hours of work and shown great commitment, as well as pushing hard for places.
“It was difficult because a lot of guys have done well in the pre-season and it’s tough to have to leave some guys behind, but they will get an opportunity along the line,” Du Preez told the Sharks’ official website.
Like assistant coach Sean Everitt, captain Pat Lambie admitted that having French international Clement Poitrenaud in the mix is a huge bonus for the team.
“It’s been really good having Clement in the mix, he’s fitted in well and is very popular with the whole squad. He’s found the pre-season going tough, I think we all have, but he’s managed to get through it with flying colours. He brings a lot of value in terms of his experience, he’s a very skilful player and we can all learn a lot from him. It’s been fantastic to have him around.”
Starting the campaign on the road is rare but hooker Franco Marais admitted that everyone is quite excited about it.
“It’s excellent to get the tour behind us, the fact that we’re on the road so early means we’re still fresh and eager to travel.”
Aside from the Reds in the first match, the Sharks will travel from Brisbane to Canberra to take on the Brumbies in their second tour clash before returning home. Du Preez admitted that they have very specific aims.
“We would like to win both games! It’s definitely about improving on the previous two games (the warm-up matches against the Cheetahs and a Bulls XV), we want to concentrate on our processes and if we get two wins out of the tour, that will be fantastic.”
Discipline is something the players have spoken about as a group and Lambie explained how important a focus it is for the team.
“In the warm-up game against the Cheetahs, our discipline did let us down; it’s a non-negotiable and neither the coaching staff nor the senior players are going to tolerate anyone not keeping their cool or shows ill-discipline. We expect a lot of needle which is what you get between South African, Australian and New Zealand sides.
“The Reds will be raring to go. They’ve assembled a really good squad this season. Playing at home they will want to start well, we will have our work cut out for us but it’s important that we remain calm, play hard but fair, maintain our discipline and get the results.”
Sharks’ 27-man touring squad
Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Etienne Oosthuizen, Franco
Marais, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, Juan
Schoeman, Lourens Adriaanse, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Stephan
Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Tendai Mtawarira, Tera Mtembu, Thomas du Toit
Andre Esterhuizen, Clement Poitrenaud, Cobus Reinach, Curwin Bosch,
Jeremy Ward, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Michael Claassens,
Pat Lambie (captain), Sbu Nkosi
Sharks’ 45-man Super Rugby squad
Beast Mtawarira, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Daniel du
Preez, Etienne Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Francois Kleinhans, Hyron
Andrews, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean Deysel, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez,
John-Hubert Meyer, Juan Schoeman, Keegan Daniel, Khaya Majola, Lourens
Adriaanse, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Stephan Coetzee, Stephan
Lewies, Tera Mtembu, Thomas du Toit
Andre Esterhuizen, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Clement Poitrenaud, Cobus
Reinach, Curwin Bosch, Garth April, Hanco Venter, Inny Radebe, Jeremy
Ward, Johan Deysel, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Marius
Louw, Michael Claassens, Odwa Ndungane, Pat Lambie (captain), Rhyno
Smith, Rowan Gouws, S’bura Sithole, Sbu Nkosi, Tristan Blewett