New skipper Lukhanyo Am says the Sharks need to play with more intent and balance when they face the Rebels this Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
2020 marks the start of a new era for the Sharks. They have a new CEO in Eduard Coetzee, a new coach in Sean Everitt, a new captain in Am and a host of new and exciting players.
Nevertheless, the Sharks are aiming high and have made a relatively impressive start to the season. They beat the Vodacom Bulls at home and then scored a valuable win against the Highlanders in Dunedin. If not for a couple of injury disruptions last week, they may have got more out of the game against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za from the team’s base in Australia, Am said that there’s been a drive to play with more balance in 2020. Over the past three weeks, the players have defended with intent and aggression. What’s more, a sharp transition from defence to attack has resulted in several spectacular tries.
‘We had a great start to the tour with that win against the Highlanders,’ Am told this website. ‘We lost to the Hurricanes last week, but given the situation I think that we can still take some positives out of the performance and move on from there.
‘There are a lot of new faces in the squad this season and ultimately a new energy about the team. The coach and his staff have implemented some new ideas and we are all onboard.
‘There’s been a drive to strike a better balance between attack and defence, and between using our forwards and backs. We’ve added more linespeed to our defence, and our transition from defence to attack has been better, with guys like Aphelele Fassi making an impact in this regard.
‘We want to play with pace and energy, whether we have the ball or not.’
The Sharks need to ensure that they maintain their intensity levels from week to week. A win against the Rebels this Saturday will keep their hopes of a three-from-four tour record alive.
‘We got over the loss to the Hurricanes pretty quickly and have settled well,’ Am said. ‘It was tough losing Boeta Chamberlain early in the game and having all those disruptions in the backline. It’s great to get Curwin Bosch back this week, as he is one of our more experienced players.
‘There are some things you need to consider when facing an Australian team, but we need to focus on our own gameplan. In Super Rugby, you have to pitch up every single week. That was a big talking point in the pre-season. We have to be more consistent if we want to push for higher honours.’
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