Rotation key for Sharks

Marcell Coetzee says the added depth in the Sharks squad will allow for better rotation this season.

The Sharks struggled to maintain their early season promise in 2014, eventually falling short at the semi-final stage for the fourth time in their history.

Having held fort at the top of the overall log for much of the league phase, the Sharks fell away badly to finish third, resulting in a semi-final trip to Christchurch.

Former director of rugby Jake White came in for some criticism for his squad management, with his Springbok front rowers and Frans Steyn playing nearly every minute of league action. Something had to give.

The Sharks have spent the months since that loss in Christchurch on something of a recruitment drive, and a number of new faces have been added.

Matt Stevens, Mouritz Botha and Jack Wilson have arrived from Saracens, while Renaldo Bothma was recruited from the Pumas. Coetzee believes the new signings will help keep the side fresh in 2015.

'Our depth is really good this year,' said Coetzee. 'Among the loosies, there are some great players. Renaldo Bothma has joined us and with Khaya Majola and Francois Kleinhans who have been in the system for a few years, along with the rest of the loose forwards, we’re looking very good.

'That’s the most important part of having a quality squad in Super Rugby because of the rotation policy here. It gives our body the opportunity to rest and recover.'

The Sharks have embarked on a gruelling pre-season schedule under the guidance of technical director Brendan Venter, with the aim of executing a more attack-minded game plan once the season commences.

'We are enjoying it out there,' admitted Coetzee. 'We’ve been given permission to play what’s in front of us by Brendan, he wants us to express ourselves and show what we’re capable of.'

'It means we’re bringing new options to our game plan and this requires our fitness levels to match our ball skills to enable us to play this way.'

The Sharks will get their season underway at Kings Park on 14 February against the Cheetahs, where they'll be looking to replicate last season's good start.

'We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, so we’ll be taking it game by game, starting with the Cheetahs,' said Coetzee. 'But we have a big squad with great players, and with the rotational policy, our bodies will remain fresh throughout the tournament.

'Our new attacking game plan is going to bring a whole new dimension to our game and the crowds are going to love it. We don’t want to play just winning rugby but also exciting rugby.'

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