The Sharks were taking confidence from the 34 points they scored against the Crusaders in Christchurch last year, as they arrived in Timaru for their first away match of the Vodacom Super 14.
The Sharks begin their daunting five-match tour on the back of a gutting one-point defeat to the Cheetahs, but coach Dick Muir doesn’t believe the loss will have an impact on Saturday’s game.
‘Had we won against the Cheetahs, I think we would still be underdogs against the Crusaders,” he said. “What will give us confidence is that we scored 34 points against them last year at Jade Stadium [the Crusaders scored 77], but we will have to tighten up our defence.Ã¢â‚¬?
Muir admitted the Sharks had a lot of work to do if they hoped to compete with the Kiwis and Aussies.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have to concentrate on our set pieces. We were caught behind the game line a bit on Saturday, but hats off to the Cheetahs … they defended very well,” he said. “We gave away seven line-outs and the Cheetahs pride themselves on competing well. Maybe it was a bit of naivete from us.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We will be taking the tour game by game, and can redeem ourselves by beating the Crusaders. The squad is very excited about the tour and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important for us. To have a full go at the Crusaders will be great.Ã¢â‚¬?
Tighthead prop Brendon Botha was stretchered off the field with a pinched nerve muscle in his neck, but Muir believes he should be ready to play.
“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think BJÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s injury is too serious, just a shock to the system. He is moving around and looks fine, so we are holding thumbs. Deon Carstens injured the same shoulder that was hurt before. Heinke [van der Merwe] will return in three weeks and it will be a huge relief to have him back.”