Sharks preparing for Stormers onslaught up front
Johannesburg - No one who saw the Currie Cup final last October will need to be told where the Stormers threat to the Sharks lies in Saturday’s Super Rugby derby at Kings Park, least of all a member of the Sharks pack.
Okay, so flank Philip van der Walt was in Japan at the time and wasn’t part of the unit that quite literally got shoved around the park, but most of his other fellow forwards were and they would have been talking about it as they get their chance to set the record straight at the weekend, according to supersport.com website.
What happened in the domestic final has been in the Sharks’ minds for a long time, and Van der Walt says the pack wants to rectify the perception that was created then. It hasn’t been the perfect build-up for the Sharks, as the Bulls pack last week exposed chinks in the armour that were kept well hidden in the two matches where the Sharks produced outstanding performances in New Zealand.
“We are very wary of where we were in trouble against the Bulls and we are wary of the Stormers looking for the same weaknesses,” said Van der Walt.
“The Currie Cup final is still on the mind in the sense that it was a difficult pill to swallow. It was a home final and they beat us at forward and we want to rectify that. It is not so much that it is in the back of our heads, we just know that we need to rectify what went wrong against them last time, and also we know where we didn’t match up against the Bulls.
“We as forwards know where we have let the team down and we know what to expect from the Stormers. After the Currie Cup final they will come here confident that they can scrum us and drive us and we are just going to have to be ready for that onslaught and show what we are capable of. It is technical things that went wrong and that we need to rectify in the scrums and that is what we are working on.”
Van der Walt, who was lauded by the coaches for the strong leadership role he played once he had been added to the mix when Wian Vosloo was forced to come home early with an injury, says that the Sharks forwards feel a strong sense of responsibility, not just ahead of this game against their coastal rivals but also ahead of every game.
“We know it is up to us (when we fall behind like we did against the Bulls) to start the fightback, it is up to us to take the lead, not just by speaking, but also by leading the way physically,” he said.
“When it gets tough we have to get physical and ignite the guys next to us. We know we are in for a very tough game this week. The Stormers will come with the same plan as the Bulls, they will look to outpower us at forward. We will need to stand together and work together, both at scrum time and in our maul defence.”
One thing the Sharks do have on their side ahead of this game in comparison to last year’s domestic final is that Robert du Preez, who tormented the Sharks in two Kings Park matches in the space of two weeks (he was the man of the match in the league game that was convincingly won by Western Province), is now wearing the Sharks No 10.
“Obviously Robert does have special knowledge of the Stormers having played for them and we are hoping that he can give us a couple of pointers. But we are also so thorough in preparing and watching their games that I doubt there will really be much that we have missed. Maybe there will be little things. The Bulls surprised us a bit with some of their plays at the weekend.”
Van der Walt said the fact that the Stormers will be coming off their first bye week of the season will help the visitors.
“The bye is very beneficial in that it effectively gives you time to think about things and work on things and it gives you two weeks to prepare for one game. You tend to come back from a bye week refreshed and eager to go. There are times though when you can come back from a bye rusty. I am not saying that will happen on Saturday, but it is another reason we must look to start well against them.”