Sharks supremo ready to run

Brent Russell says that he is going to relish the opportunity to play in the “adventurous” 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.

“I was told by the [Springbok] management that I won’t be involved for the next three Test matches so for now it’s all Sharks,” he told keo.co.za.

“I’ve followed the team’s progress while we were away and I’m very excited about the adventurous play I’ve been seeing.

“Dick [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.”

Muir’s ‘play what’s in front of you approach’ 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.

“Dick told me that he wants me to ‘play’ as much as possible. But that’s difficult in the game because everyone has their set position and the role that goes with that [position], and you don’t want to break up any combinations.

“I’m at my best when I have the ball in hand and running at defenders and I’ll try to make as big an impact as I can,” he added.

A testament to Muir’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.

“Ja hey, it’s strange to think of myself that way but I don’t mind,” he laughed. “There’s a couple of guys in the side who brought me through the ranks and I’m happy to do the same for some of the younger boys,” he said.

“You know it’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,” he said when asked about how much five weeks without game time has affected him.

But he asserted that it won’t take long for him to get back to his defense-splitting best.

“It just takes one pass, one side-step or one line-break and you’re back in the zone.”

By Ryan Vrede