Brent Russell says that he is going to relish the opportunity to play in the â€œadventurousâ€ Sharks team against the Lions today.
Russell was released by the Springboks on their return from the Australasian leg of the Tri-Nations series and said he now looks forward to an extended run in the Sharks team.
â€œI was told by the [Springbok] management that I wonâ€™t be involved for the next three Test matches so for now itâ€™s all Sharks,â€ he told keo.co.za.
â€œIâ€™ve followed the teamâ€™s progress while we were away and Iâ€™m very excited about the adventurous play Iâ€™ve been seeing.
â€œDick [Muir] has really done a tremendous job with the team and the youngsters coming through have shown that they have the quality to really take the Sharks forward.â€
Muirâ€™s â€˜play whatâ€™s in front of you approachâ€™ has yielded great rewards this season and this is sure to be an environment in which Russell thrives.
Despite being selected to play wing, he has been given a roaming brief from his coach.
â€œDick told me that he wants me to â€˜playâ€™ as much as possible. But thatâ€™s difficult in the game because everyone has their set position and the role that goes with that [position], and you donâ€™t want to break up any combinations.
â€œIâ€™m at my best when I have the ball in hand and running at defenders and Iâ€™ll try to make as big an impact as I can,â€ he added.
A testament to Muirâ€™s youth policy is that at just 26, Russell is considered a veteran of the Sharks back division, a role he said he was happy to assume.
â€œJa hey, itâ€™s strange to think of myself that way but I donâ€™t mind,â€ he laughed. â€œThereâ€™s a couple of guys in the side who brought me through the ranks and Iâ€™m happy to do the same for some of the younger boys,â€ he said.
â€œYou know itâ€™s not the ideal situation for me but I know I still have a long way to go before I become the player I see myself being,â€ he said when asked about how much five weeks without game time has affected him.
But he asserted that it wonâ€™t take long for him to get back to his defense-splitting best.
â€œIt just takes one pass, one side-step or one line-break and youâ€™re back in the zone.â€
By Ryan Vrede