Sharks counting the hours before World Cup winners return for URC duty
After two losses on the road, the Sharks are desperate to get a win, against Ospreys.
Sharks players, including Curwin Bosch, will be hoping for a good result against Ospreys. Picture: Sam Barnes/Gallo Images
While the Springbok players are on their Rugby World Cup trophy tour celebrating their exploits in France, their franchises are eagerly awaiting their return, among them the Sharks.
The Durban-based outfit are set to gain the most from the return of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Grant Williams, Jaden Hendrikse, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi in the coming days and weeks.
The addition of the World Cup-winning Boks will take the standard of the Sharks to a new level, with assistant coach Dave Williams saying they are looking forward to seeing their Bok contingent join the rest of the squad.
“The guys we have been working with at the moment have really grown as a collective. When we drop the Springboks into that mix, there will be a real cultural boundary set and expectations of what performances look like. We are excited to get those guys in,” Williams said.
The Sharks have worked on increasing their depth and scope without the Boks during the off-season.
“It’s exciting as a coach to work with the wider group and know that your internationals will come back at a later stage. It allows focusing on growing the base and brand of players that you will need throughout the season. Even if you have a Bok-laden squad, at some point you have to rotate and rest players,” he said.
Results have not been good for the Sharks so far in the United Rugby Championship. They have lost their opening two matches of the season against Munster and Leinster on tour.
The Sharks management anticipated the tough start to the season but are optimistic of a win against Ospreys on Friday night in London.
“As the coaching team, we spoke about the challenges of this tour, playing the champions (Munster) and champions-elect Leinster. In both matches we didn’t score for long periods, we just couldn’t convert at certain moments.
“So this weekend (against Ospreys), we’ll continue with that belief and be more ruthless when we get those line breaks and continue to build pressure,” said Williams.
The Sharks will send a star-studded team into action, with Aphiwe Dyantyi starting for the first time after his return to rugby, while there are no less than eight Boks in the starting XV.
Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Francois Venter (capt), Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Curwin Bosch, Cameron Wright, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Phepsi Buthelezi, James Venter, Emile van Heerden, Corne Rahl, Coenie Oosthuizen, Dylan Richardson, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Hanro Jacobs, Hyron Andrews, George Cronje, Zee Mkhabela, Boeta Chamberlain, Murray Koster.