Daniel adds all-round value

Gary Gold says Keegan Daniel’s experience and influence at the lineout played a key role in the Sharks’ impressive win over the Hurricanes, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Daniel deservedly earned the Man of the Match award after producing a multi-faceted performance that saw him make 106m, complete 10 tackles, execute two turnovers and beat four defenders. However, it was his ability to steal three lineouts that particularly disrupted this first-phase foundation of the Hurricanes at various stages of the game on Saturday.

‘Keegan’s decision-making and reading of the opposition hooker was outstanding, he got up and asked a lot of questions of a very useful hooker in Dane Coles,’ said Gold, the Sharks director of rugby. ‘That made a big difference, it’s been our Achilles heel in a number of games this season, our lineout capitulated against the Lions and we lost 24-9 because of it, while our scrum has also creaked at certain times.

‘You need that set piece to launch, you need to have a stable base and it’s something we know we’ve been poor at in the past, so we’ve put a lot of work and energy into that.’

Daniel made a somewhat unexpected return to the Sharks after leaving the Durban-based side in 2014 to play for the Kubota Spears in Japan, but it’s a signing that’s proven to be a masterstroke, particularly in light of the unforeseen injury to Marcell Coetzee.

‘Keegan is a stalwart and brings a huge amount of experience to these big games; he has a cool, calm head and is a leader within the team,' Gold said. ‘I thought he was outstanding against the Hurricanes, but in saying that, the Du Preez brothers [Dan and Jean-Luc] were next level. Garth April was exceptional and André Esterhuizen made a host of important tackles. It was a really good team effort and I’m just glad I didn’t have to decide who should be the Man of the Match.’

The Sharks’ victory has reignited their playoff ambitions, but the coastal side will now face another potentially draining trip to Buenos Aires to take on the Jaguares this Saturday.

Gold said the team’s training and player management would be very important before their multi-stop flight to Argentina on Wednesday.

‘We’ll need to rest up a bit, we’re entering unchartered territory in terms of now making this journey to Argentina. We know that another onslaught is coming our way. If we think the Jaguares are going to be an easy team to play in Buenos Aires, we’ve got another thing coming. They’re a side that’s improving every week and we can’t doubt their passion. The Jaguares are a physical team and will come hard at us in front of a partisan crowd. So we certainly need to stay grounded.’

Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

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