Sharks coach Dick Muir has dismissed detractors of the dual-squad system, who believe that he is “taking chances”.
“I have received some critical e-mails from up north,” Muir told the Sharks website. “We obviously do not see things that way and we are very excited about this way of doing things. We have a big squad bursting with talent and they are all getting a chance to show their worth.”
At the post-match media conference on Saturday, Muir told journalists that he was pleased with the system thus far. “It’s definitely showing us what we want to see,” he said, “and we will see the real benefit of this in the second half of the Absa Currie Cup.”
Despite his team’s three-match unbeaten run, Muir said that winning was not his highest priority. “I am clear with what we want to achieve with the two squads. We are not results-driven; we want the squad to get better.”
He watched his young ‘second’ team (average age 23) put in a good performance against the Pumas in Durban on Friday night, the Sharks running out 34-16 victors.
The Sharks travel to Kimberely this Saturday to face a Griquas team who lost to the Valke (23-8) last week, but Muir is approaching this game with caution.
“Griquas are a team that are dangerous if they gain momentum in front of their home crowd. We have to get on top of them early and keep the pressure on for the whole 80 minutes.”
Muir also stressed that the team spirit in his squad was high in the lead up to the fourth round of the competition.”There is a great buzz amongst the guys. As match day approaches each week, we as coaches eagerly await seeing how the newcomers will perform. It is truly exciting.”
A win for the Sharks would ensure great momentum going into a tough two-week period when they travel to the strongholds of Loftus Versfeld and Bloemfontein. The Sharks will field a full-strength team in both of these games.
Jaco Gouws will continue to skipper an unchanged side for the Griquas match. Muir’s only injury concern is flyhalf, Steve Meyer (strained neck muscle) who undergoes a fitness test this evening. Andre Binikos will replace him if he is unable to play. Binikos last played for the Sharks in the friendly against the Western Force in Pietermaritzburg.