Sharks have licence to thrill

The Sharks will be looking to play a more enterprising brand of rugby in 2015 according to assistant coach Paul Anthony.

The Durban-based franchise were criticised last year for their conservative approach under Jake White despite being the only South African side to make the play-offs.

No team kicked more ball than the Sharks during 2014 Super Rugby, while only the Bulls managed fewer tries. Following White's departure, the new coaching set-up has looked to address the failures of last season.

'It’s going to be attacking rugby, but not stupid attacking rugby,' Anthony told the Sharks website. 'We’re going to put a solid blend in, no one wants to be predictable and you want to allow the players to play what they see in front of them, to play the space and really give them licence to have a go.'

'If it’s on, they have a go, but our key decision-makers determine that. If they have a go and slip up trying to force the offload, we’re going to be OK with that.'

Anthony understands that in order to play a higher intensity game, especially in the crippling heat and humidity experienced in Durban during the early months of the year, the players will need to improve their fitness levels. The Sharks have embarked on a gruelling pre-season schedule which should stand them in good stead once the season proper rolls around.

'It’s incredibly hot, and at the time of finishing training at 12:30, the boys are still producing incredible intensity and unbelievable effort. We’re just over the moon with what they’re producing.

'The environment makes the energy and the environment is massive at the moment which leads to positive energy and that's transferred into the way we are training. And we’re looking to take the energy and that positivity into the Super Rugby competition.

'We’re calling the energy we’re putting in “Buzz Lightyear”: we want to go to infinity and beyond. But obviously we need to be sensible, it’s Super Rugby, you’re up against sides with massive defences so you don’t want to be stupid; you want to do things in the right places on the field.'

Besides the energy necessary to integrate and implement a high-intensity style of play, the players will also need to show the ability to complete actions at pace.

'We’re putting in the right skill sets, we’ve worked hard on the skills to develop those we never had, and hopefully that will come through. Obviously there will be slip-ups, we will spill ball, we will make mistakes, but we just need to keep playing and we’ll get it right.

'We’re probably running and gyming harder than ever, but the running is replicating what we are going to be doing in the match. That’s the difference; it’s not aimless running, it’s game-directed.

'There are a few weeks to tune things, we do anticipate being a bit loose in the pre-season games, but we will just get better and better, there’s no doubt about it.'

Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images