LIVE

    Sharks not expecting major Lions changes

    2018-02-15 10:14

    Lloyd Burnard

    Durban - Super Rugby 2018 dishes up a massive fixture in its first weekend when the Lions host the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday. 

    The Lions are favourites, having finished the tournament as losing finalists in both 2016 and 2017, but there is an element of the unknown about how they will go in 2018. 

    With Johan Ackermann having left for Gloucester, the Lions are now in the hands of Swys de Bruin, who makes the step up from assistant coach to head coach. The franchise has retained the services of most of their players from 2017 - they have lost just three - but with a new figure at the helm the other South African teams in the competition will be licking their lips. 

    For the first time since 2015, the South African sides are all in the same Conference, which means that there is more riding on these local derbies. 

    The sides met in the quarter-finals of last year's tournament, also at Ellis Park, and dished up a classic. 

    It took a long-range, last minute Ruan Combrinck penalty to bury the Sharks as the Lions secured a 23-21 win. 

    It was a result that left the Durbanites crushed, but you have to go back all the way to 2014 to find the last time the Sharks beat the Lions in Super Rugby. 

    Since then, the Lions have won six in a row between the sides and seven of the last 10. 

    The Sharks, though, have recruited and have a number of new players at their disposal. 

    Robert du Preez jnr, Makazole Mapimpi and Leolin Zas headline the intake, and with the likes of Jean-Luc du Preez, Dan du Preez, Franco Marais, Akker van der Merwe and Tendai Mtawarira bulking up the pack, there is a real optimism at Kings Park this season.

    There first test will be the Lions, who have been the only South African side worth talking about in recent seasons. 

    According to Sharks loose forward Philip van der Walt, the visitors know what to expect.

    "I don't think so," he said when asked if the Lions would offer anything different this year.

    "I think they will be even sharper. They'll try and build on the successes they've had on their attacking play.

    "They've been doing well and have had two finals and they'll be as motivated to get third time lucky and win it. I don't think they're going to change much."

    Van der Walt has just returned from a stint in Japan with the Canon Eagles, and while he missed out on the majority of Sharks pre-season training, he likes what he has seen from his team-mates so far.

    "The nice thing we have at the moment is that there are so many players putting their hands up to get that spot in the team. Even with the Boks we have, we have players who are pushing them. It's great to have the youngsters pushing the senior guys," he said.

    "It's a new opportunity for us to improve. We owe the Sharks a good season. We all want to play in finals and we all want to win, and I think it's been a long time coming now.

    "I think we have the team this year to achieve that."

    Read News24’s Comments Policy


    Results

    06 July 2019
    29 June 2019
    22 June 2019
    21 June 2019
    15 June 2019
    14 June 2019
    08 June 2019
    07 June 2019
    01 June 2019
    31 May 2019
    25 May 2019
    24 May 2019
    18 May 2019
    17 May 2019
    12 May 2019
    11 May 2019
    10 May 2019
    04 May 2019
    03 May 2019
    27 April 2019
    26 April 2019
    20 April 2019
    19 April 2019
    13 April 2019
    12 April 2019
    06 April 2019
    05 April 2019
    30 March 2019
    29 March 2019
    24 March 2019
    23 March 2019
    22 March 2019
    16 March 2019
    15 March 2019
    09 March 2019
    08 March 2019
    02 March 2019
    01 March 2019
    23 February 2019
    22 February 2019
    16 February 2019
    15 February 2019

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts
    • Jaguares (Q)
    • Bulls (wc)
    • Sharks (wc)
    • Lions (wc)
    • Stormers

    Opinion Poll

    How will the Springboks fare at this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan?

    Can you name the top Super Rugby tryscorers of all-time?

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.