Cape Town - Sharks captain Pat Lambie was diplomatic when asked whether he thought they had an easier Super Rugby draw in 2017.
During last season’s group phase action, the Sharks faced all five of the New Zealand sides, but this year the tables are turned and the Durbanites will face the five Australian teams.
The general consensus is that it’s easier for a team to face the Australian sides than the pace-setting Kiwis.
When probed on the matter, Lambie responded by saying their 2017 draw would be “interesting”.
“We’re looking forward to playing the Australian sides after not meeting any of them last year,” Lambie was quoted as saying on the Sharks’ official website, but the Springbok pivot added: “Some might say this is the easier draw, but Super Rugby is one of the toughest competitions in the world; the longevity makes it extremely challenging. Add the travel to that and the fact that there aren’t any easy games anymore... we’ll be taking it one week at a time.”
In 2017, the Sharks are in Africa Conference 2 alongside the Lions, Southern Kings and Jaguares.
Teams from this conference will face Australian opposition, while the teams from Africa Conference 1 - Bulls, Cheetahs, Stormers and Sunwolves - will face New Zealand opposition.
The Sharks start their Super Rugby campaign away to the Reds in Brisbane next Friday (February 24).
Sharks’ 27-man touring squad
Forwards: 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
Backs: 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
Forwards: 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