If the Sharks wanted to start an Australasian tour in a reasonably comfortable manner, you could do a lot worse than playing the Brumbies first up.
No-one is denying that Saturday’s Super Rugby meeting in Canberra won’t be tight but that overshadows the fact that the Durbanites actually have a pretty decent record in the Australian capital.
Most recently, they squeezed to a 27-22 win there last year in injury time.
Don’t bet though on coach Robert du Preez, a serial pragmatist, looking much into that.
“History counts for nothing, there are different teams now. We won last year in the last minute but we were under pressure that whole game,” he said.
“The Brumbies are a very good team. Their pack of forwards is really strong and that is where the game is going to be won or lost. We have to neutralise that pack of forwards to be dominant and be in the game.”
Indeed, Du Preez and his lieutenants have carefully reviewed their opponents’ 10-33 loss to the Rebels last week and come to the conclusion that they somehow weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggested.
“The Brumbies were unlucky not to have scored a few more tries,” he said.
What the Sharks are looking forward too is more bearable weather Down Under, with their more attacking game being hampered by the humidity and the slippery ball.
“We are looking forward to the fact that there is no humidity on tour, which will help us with our attacking play,” said Du Preez.
But that can’t lead them to forsaking the basics.
“The better we get with our set-pieces and being more dominant, the better our attack will get. We are going to have to be on top of our game to make sure we control it the way we want,” said the Sharks mentor.
Sharks: Curwin Bosch, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Tera Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen, Wian Vosloo, Stephan Lewies, Ruan Botha (c), Thomas du Toit, Akker van der Merwe, Beast Mtawarira. Bench: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Tyler Paul, Jean-Luc du Preez, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Lwazi Mvovo.