Muir praises Smit, AJ

Sharks coach Dick Muir has applauded the calming influence of captain John Smit and AJ Venter for his side’s impeccable discipline against the Calamity Cats on Saturday.

Muir told the Mercury’s Mike Greenaway that the Cats tactics of attempting to intimidate the Sharks and bring them down to their level through niggle was expected, but still it was a major challenge not to respond to kind.

“I think there was a lot of frustration in the way the Cats played. When a team is struggling, they often opt for intimidation as a tactic. It is something we anticipated and we were determined not to get sucked into the mentality of a typical SA rugby derby,” Muir said.

“I cannot praise the leaders in the team enough for their success in keeping the guys focused.”

Despite the Sharks’ comfortable victory, Muir stated that he was not satisfied with the performance.

“I think we got a bit carried away with our desire to score points. The guys were geared up for a massive match and sometimes tried too hard to make things happen. We created so many opportunities but did not finish most of them off because of overeagerness. I suppose we should be happy, though, that we did create those opportunities,” Muir said, before dismissing suggestions that minds in Durban were now turning to an improbably semi final appearance.

“We are not getting involved in any speculation about the outside chance of a semi-finals,” he said. “If we keep on playing the rugby we want to play, the results will come automatically and then we’ll see where we are on the log at the end. It’s important, though, that we continue showing a weekly improvement, and there is tons of room for improvement.”

The Sharks take on the Blues in the Shark Tank on Saturday, and Muir predicts a cracker.

“There has always been something special about matches between these teams,” he said. “There have been some ding-ding battles and I know the Sharks players have always loved the challenge of playing against the Aucklanders. I reckon this is going to be an excellent match because both teams are on an upward trend.”