Although the Bulls will be without star flyhalf Johan Goosen in Saturday’s Currie Cup final, Sharks coach Sean Everitt doesn’t believe the home team’s plan hinges on one player.
The Bulls and Sharks are set for a rematch Currie Cup final rematch, having also contested the title-deciding game in January earlier this year.
The Bulls will host the upcoming encounter, having set the pace in the competition right from the start. But they were dealt a massive blow with news that in-form flyhalf, Goosen, was ruled out of the final after testing positive for Covid-19.
But while many believe the playmaker’s absence will balance the scale more evenly between the teams, Everitt is adamant that is not the case.
“It will be a big loss for them. He was probably their best player and Jake rightfully said he is one of the best in the world in his position,” he said.
“But in saying that, they are a well-drilled unit and they have performed really well when Chris Smith has played at flyhalf as well. He is an accomplished player at Currie Cup level and he has had enough exposure and experience in the Rainbow Cup as well as in the Currie Cup to be able to do the job for them.
“They are a very good team. It doesn’t only hang around one guy. At the end of the day, we aren’t looking at the Bulls without Goosen or with Goosen. We just know that they are well drilled and we have to stop them.”
The Sharks boss was more wary of the Bulls’ loose forwards, highlight the back row as a threat that would need to be neutralised.
“Marcell [Coetzee] is a world-class loose forward. He has been playing very good rugby for the Bulls and as a captain he has certainly offered inspiration to his teammates. He is always a handful, whether he is carrying the ball or stealing it on the floor. I would presume with him, Elrigh Louw is playing well and Arno Botha, they will be firing on Saturday.”
The Sharks have been boosted by the return of Thomas du Toit, who was released from the Bok squad two weeks ago on compassionate leave. The prop has since been selected in the Sharks’ side for the final.
“Unfortunately, Thomas went through a family bereavement,” Everitt revealed.
“He left the bubble in Australia and has been at home for the last nearly two weeks now. He is available for selection and so obviously being a Springbok, the way we analyse Springboks when they return to the team is that they start on the weekend. So he gets the privilege of starting in this Currie Cup final.”
Commenting on the game itself, Everitt believes whichever team makes the better start and plays with greater intensity, will come out on top.
“It’s about both teams handling the intensity. We saw how the Bulls started the semi-final against Western Province. They were absolutely sublime in those first 20 minutes. That will pose a challenge,” he said.
“Both teams will have a bit of nerves, although we have both played in finals. The team that settles first and gets down to the job will have the best start and that’s going to be important in a game of this magnitude. The start is really important. It’s about how we teams adjust to the intensity.”
One area of concern for Everitt is his charges’ discipline.
“If you look at the Sharks performances over the last few games and pretty much over the Currie Cup, our discipline has improved. But certainly in the first half of the semi-final we gave away six or seven penalties, which put us under pressure.
“We couldn’t build scoreboard pressure as a result. So yes, that’s very important. In the last final we played, we also gave away a couple of early penalties and Morne [Steyn] kicked them over to go 6-0 up. We mustn’t underestimate the scoreboard pressure. It does have an influence on how you play there.”
Everitt also warned his playmakers, Lionel Cronje and Curwin Bosch against trying to be too fancy and urged them rather to get the basics right.
“I don’t think a final is that place to experiment with certain manoeuvres in a game. We have got a plan in place. We know that Lionel is an experienced flyhalf who has brought something different to the Sharks’ attacking style.
“Saying that, we have a plan in place. Curwin at the back has got a really good boot, as we know. He also has a good counter attacking ability. Going back to Lionel, we have a plan to follow and he is the general. I am sure he will be able to implement that really well.”
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