Phepsi Buthelezi is confident the Sharks have the depth to upset Leinster, despite missing several Springboks for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash between the teams on Saturday.
The coastal outfit welcomed the likes of Bok skipper Siya Kolisi and big-name signing Eben Etzebeth to its Durban training facility on Monday, but did not dispatch any of the returnees to join the tour squad in Ireland.
Buthelezi believes their exclusion won’t hinder the Sharks’ prospects of beating Leinster – the joint-log leaders – in Dublin, and that the tourists won’t allow their underdog status to deter them from delivering a match-winning performance.
Speaking during a media conference on Tuesday, the No 8 acknowledged that the South Africans will have their work cut out for them to maintain their current undefeated URC streak.
“We’ve got so much depth that any team we put out can compete,” Buthelezi said. “Leinster have all their internationals but we are backing ourselves and want to go out there to deliver.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but certainly one we are looking forward to.”
Assistant coach Warren Whiteley is equally optimistic about their prospects, adding that the Sharks have identified key areas for improvement.
“We’ve been focusing on our lineouts and maul defence over the last two weeks and have seen some improvement in this regard,” he said. “We were disappointed in the first game but made an improvement against the Dragons.
“This weekend is another opportunity to keep improving in that department.”
On the Sharks’ new-look loose trio of Buthelezi, James Venter and Dylan Richardson, Whiteley claimed that while cohesion would take a bit of time, he has been pleased with their progress.
“The guys have only played a handful of games together. We’ve been excited by what we’ve seen and there is just going to be more improvement,” he added.
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