Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
27 Apr 2022
8:56 am

‘Every game like a final now,’ says Du Toit as Sharks chase home playoff

Ken Borland

The Sharks are up against Connacht this weekend, the Irish side which beat the Lions in Joburg last weekend.

Grant Williams of the Sharks runs with the ball during a training session this week, ahead of the match against Connacht. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Connacht may be the lowest-ranked of the Irish sides, in 10th place in the United Rugby Championship, but Sharks captain Thomas du Toit is wary of them ahead of their match on Saturday at Kings Park because he views them as a threatening package that combines strong forwards with an attack that can do the unexpected.

The Sharks currently have 51 log points, the same as Munster and Ulster, one point behind the second-placed Stormers and 10 adrift of Leinster.

Connacht’s own playoff aspirations may be gone as they are 12 points off the pace with only two matches to play, but they showed last weekend in beating the Lions at altitude at Ellis Park that they have great determination, they never stop being competitive and they displayed composure under pressure.

Being only the second northern hemisphere team to win in Johannesburg is a decent honour to have on their URC CV.

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“The other Irish teams – Munster, Ulster and Leinster – all employ similar tactics to each other in attack and defence and they are more structured than Connacht,” Du Toit said on Tuesday.

“But Connacht are one of the most physical sides in the competition, and yet they also play with more freedom. But at the same time they are very well prepared and trained.

“We’re trying to stay in our structure a bit more and the top eight is not our aim, ensuring a home quarterfinal is our aim. That’s a massive focus for us and every game now is like a final.

“You cannot underestimate the value of being at home in the playoffs, and now that we’ve sussed out the competition, we are doing what South African teams do best,” Du Toit said.

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On a personal level, the Springbok prop is unfazed about taking over the captaincy with Lukhanyo Am in Japan and Siya Kolisi left to concentrate on his own game.

“My title just changed – I used to just be tighthead prop but now it’s with a little ‘c’ next to it. I talk a lot more now in our meetings, but it hasn’t changed a lot on the field.

“A team like this has so many talented, young but experienced leaders. We enjoy playing a lot of rugby and trying different things,” Du Toit said.