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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Sharks not favourites to win Challenge Cup, insists Powell

The Sharks have previously stated their intentions to win the Challenge Cup to secure qualification for next season's Champions Cup.

Sharks director of rugby, Neil Powell, has played down any suggestions of them being the favourites to win the Challenge Cup this season.

The side from Durban will host fellow United Rugby Championship outfit Edinburgh in a Challenge Cup quarter-final on Saturday at King’s Park Stadium (kick-off 1.30pm).

With a squad that’s full of Springboks internationals, with eight players with Rugby World Cup winners medals, there’s a general consensus that the Sharks are the favourites to win the competition.

Peaking at right time

The Sharks are peaking at the moment, winning three matches in a row in all competitions as they have found their strongest team.

Despite having declared their interest in winning the Challenge Cup to qualify for the next season’s Champions Cup, Sharks boss, Powell, avoided the favourites tag, saying there are good teams left in the competition.

“I still think there are some very competitive teams left in this Challenge Cup. I don’t think we can say we are favourites to win the Challenge Cup if we get a win over Edinburgh,” Powell said. 

“I think when you go to the playoff stages, especially the later stages of the playoffs in terms of the semi-final and finals, everybody wants to be successful and wants to win the competition.

“There’s still a lot of strong teams left in the competition, I do believe there’s good teams left so I don’t think we can see ourselves as favourites if we get a win over Edinburgh this weekend,” he said.

‘Not easy’

The Sharks and Edinburgh will meet for the second time in two weeks. They last met in the URC where Sharks put on a strong performance to win 23-13. Going to this round, the Sharks will look for more of the same and polish up where they lacked.

“We looked at the game we played against them two weeks ago, and we identified areas that we want to be good at. We know the threat they posed to us. It’s not going be an easy one when you get into the knockout games, it can be anybody’s game depending on who pitches up on the day,” Powell said.

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