Ruan Pienaar belives the Sharks have a long way to go before they can be considered serious contenders for the Absa Currie Cup title.
Dick Muir’s team thrashed the Valke 46-17 on Friday night, but according to Pienaar they were far from convincing.
“The result flatters us in a way because I think we were poor,” he told keo.co.za. “We made far too many mistakes in the game and we are disappointed with the performance.”
The match was marred by handling errors from both sides who were intent on swinging the ball wide. And Pienaar warns that better teams will capitalise on mistakes like these.
“The second leg of the Currie Cup will be much tougher. We’ll have to cut down on the amount of handling errors we make because you can be sure the better sides will make you pay.
“You saw it in our game against the Cheetahs. Three of their tries came from mistakes that we made. We let ourselves down in that game and paid the price.”
The Sharks have been criticised for playing a risky brand of rugby this season and again showed their penchant for the ball-in-hand approach against the Valke, often opting to run when the punt for touch would have been better advised. Pienaar though is sold on Muir’s expansive approach.
“We won’t change the way we play,” he said defiantly. “Sure it’s risky but that doesn’t mean we just abandon the idea. It’s all about taking the right option at the right time. If our execution is good, it’s going to get us more points than it’s going to cost us.”
Both Muir and AJ Venter highlighted the need for their team to convert the chances they were creating and the two are sure to continue with this mantra after a series of try scoring opportunities were spurned.
Of particular concern to Muir would be the erratic goal kicking of Pienaar. With Butch James and Percy Montgomery unlikely to play for the remainder of the season, he will be concerned at his lack of depth in this department, especially in tighter games.
Pienaar though is far more optimistic. “Listen, you can’t be perfect every Saturday in everything you do. It’s something I’ve been working hard on and will continue to do. I’ve been criticised so much about this but it doesn’t bother me. It was coming along nicely against the Cheetahs but I’ve got to be more consistent, and I will be.”
With Brad Barritt having recovered from a shoulder injury, Pienaar will shift back to scrumhalf for the foreseeable future. The 22-year-old though is highly rated in the pivot role and many see him as a carbon copy of Henry Honiball. He quickly plays down the comparison and remains adamant about his preferred position.
“I’m most comfortable at scrumhalf and that’s were I want to establish myself,” he said. “I’m happy to fill the role from time-to-time but Brad’s back so I’ll gladly hand the No 10 shirt back to him.”
The Sharks have a break this weekend and Muir has taken the opportunity to arrange a team building trip to Newcastle in the KZN midlands as well as some time out at the Champagne Sports Resort in the Central Drakensberg.
“Well come back refreshed and ready make a really big impact in the second round,” Pienaar said, “we’ve got a really good team this season and there’s no reason why we can’t go all the way.”
By Ryan Vrede