Much of the Durbanites’ troubles in Super Rugby stemmed from being spread thin badly at the back and in keeping with this season’s most salient theme, both tinkers were at the back.
Tim Whitehead’s much-awaited return to competitive rugby was yesterday confirmed as a short one – his rib and ankle afflictions will keep him out, gifting Heimar Williams a chance to make an impression in the midfield with Louis Ludik.
A similar fate befell Sizo Maseko, the wing complaining of a tight hamstring following his debut last week.
His replacement, however, is a far more high profile one.
Sharks backs coach Sean Everitt had previously expressed his excitement over new recruit from the Kings SP Marais and the 24-year-old will duly make an inaugural appearance.
“He arrived late last week and joined us for one session, and he’s raring to go, we’re looking forward to seeing him in action,” he said. Understandably though, the catch phrase for this week has been continuity.
There had been much bluster from the Sharks camp last week, suggesting an expediently exciting new era could be expected but reality struck early.
Still, the Sharks actually only lost in the dying seconds and had been in control for periods despite not playing particularly well overall. “We put ourselves into a position where we could win the game, but unfortunately ill-discipline cost us at the end,”said Everitt.
“There were a lot of positives that we can take out of the game and there is certainly a lot we can work on. That why we didn’t make many changes. We don’t have to. We will keep the team together as far as possible.”
Forwards coach Brad McLeod-Henderson added that a focus on the scrums would be adopted after Griquas hassled them in that department.
Stand-in skipper Jacques Botes echoed that sentiment.
“We battled at times in the scrums, but there were also some good ones, ” said the experienced loose forward.