Prop Juan Schoeman says the Sharks need to ‘fight for dominance’ from the very first scrum against a much-vaunted Western Province pack, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Sharks are preparing to front up for one of their greatest set-piece battles in Saturday’s final against Western Province at Newlands.
These two teams also met in the domestic title decider last year, and on that occasion it was Western Province who laid down a decisive marker when they sent the Sharks pack wheeling backwards at the first scrum.
It turned out to be the defining feature of the domestic showpiece, and after Province had battled back to claim an impressive 33-21 win, coach John Dobson admitted that their scrum dominance had served as a much-needed confidence booster.
Although there is a different set of personnel involved this year, a Province front row of Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi and Ali Vermaak has proved to be highly destructive at scrum time.
Schoeman featured off the bench in last year’s title decider, but is now set to start his first Currie Cup final in what is sure to be a massive one-on-one battle against Louw.
‘It’s always a great opportunity to play against a Bok like Wilco and measure yourself against one of the best,’ Schoeman told SARugbymag.co.za.
‘We know it’s going to be the best side we’ve scrummed against this season, and from the very first scrum, we have to fight for that dominance because we’ve seen what Western Province can do at this set piece.
‘Having said that, we’re really looking forward to this challenge, and it’s the sort of match where you can really just empty the tank. Nothing that has gone before will matter in the final, it all comes down to this and playing for each other.’
Schoeman – who joined the Sharks from the Bulls in 2015 – has enjoyed an impressive season for the Durban-based side, and said there was a real sense of excitement building in the camp ahead of Saturday’s clash.
‘The nerves will always be there, but it’s about how you channel that on the day, and it’s something I’m really looking forward to. The extra game-time I’ve received this season has really helped, it’s something that gives you confidence and the opportunity to learn.’
Both the Sharks and Western Province are set to name their match-day squads on Thursday.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 22, 2018
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix