Rugby 22.10.2013 06:00 am

Sharks remain calm

Bismarck Du Plessis of the Sharks during The Sharks captains run at Growthpoint Kings Park on July 12, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Bismarck Du Plessis of the Sharks during The Sharks captains run at Growthpoint Kings Park on July 12, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

You don’t need to trawl through the archives to obtain evidence that the Sharks don’t particularly cope well with the label of favourites.

It was the case in last season’s Currie Cup showpiece loss to Western Province their opponents at Newlands this weekend in a re-match in 2011’s comprehensive defeat to the Lions and in 2007 and 2009’s unexpected semifinal hiccups.

Yet when they were written off in 2012’s Super Rugby play-offs, they did the unthinkable by making the final after defying conventional wisdom in winning two away knockout contests and were denied a fairytale by their battered bodies.

So when the talk surrounding the Durbanites’ chances this weekend shifted to an underdog sentiment, it should be accompanied with some optimism.

It might be a small thing but what could help those traditionally fickle psyches is the fact that the coaching staff aren’t necessarily bearing the scars of previous campaigns, particularly in forwards coach Brad McLeod-Henderson who only joined the union in mid-year.

And it was noticeable that he didn’t look or sound perturbed by a “daunting” excursion to Cape Town. “I certainly can’t detect much nervousness or foresee us being haunted by previous experiences,” said McLeod-Henderson.

“Everyone wants to play in a final. We’ve been training for it since we started this campaign so it would be pretty pointless if we weren’t relishing the challenge.The guys will certainly be up for it.”

One area the Sharks will be wary of is the collisions – McLeod-Henderson pointed that out as a weakness during the win over the Cheetahs.

But with men like Jean Deysel (injury) and Bismarck du Plessis, left, (suspension), potential casualties, the problem could persist.

 

 

 

 

 

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