Rugby 25.1.2014 08:00 am

Saracens a test for the Sharks

Willem Alberts during the Cell C Sharks training session at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on January 17, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Willem Alberts during the Cell C Sharks training session at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on January 17, 2014 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

London seems like a terribly strenuous destination just for warm-up game, but the Sharks seem convinced that the trip to play English Premiership side Saracens today will be worth the effort.

Director of rugby Jake White has given this meeting an inte-resting dimension by assembling a combination polarised in its nature.

To say his forward legion looks formidable is an understatement.

White has included the Springbok front row and a powerful loose trio of Tera Mtembu, Jean Deysel and Willem Alberts.

That’s in stark contrast to the backs, where Tim Swiel, Andre Esterhuizen and Tyler Fisher are young unknown quantities.

But the thinking here is perhaps understandable: The Sharks have lost backline stalwarts like Meyer Bosman and Riaan Viljoen, leading to questions over depth.

With Frans Steyn also sidelined again after a training niggle, White needs to explore some of his options.

He also believes Saracens’ pattern can assist them specifically in preparing for their Super Rugby opener against the Bulls.

“What I enjoy about this game is that it mimics a little bit of what we can expect from the Bulls,” said White.

“Saracens play a little bit like the Bulls, they have a big pack of forwards, their setpiece is strong and they kick a lot. It gives me and the coaching staff an opportunity to see the things we want to do against the Bulls.”

However, given their horror run of injuries in last year’s competition, the World Cup-winning mentor is also hopeful a competitive game doesn’t take its toll on the bodies.

“The most important thing about this game is that we get through it injury-free. Obviously people would appreciate that they are in the middle of their season. While this is the first hit-out for us, we haven’t had any contact situations.”

 

 

 

 

 

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