Forget the forward battle and lighting fast backs, the smarter side will win Friday’s night’s game between the Sharks and Vodacom Western Province according to Bismarck du Plessis.
AJ Venter, in the post-match interview at Ellis Park said that the Lions had “outmuscled” his team. But Du Plessis has a different view.
“I would say more outsmarted than outmuscled,” the Sharks hooker told keo.co.za.
“They were just so much more decisive in how they used the ball, and on Friday Province will punish us twice as hard as they [the Lions] did if we don’t use our possession intelligently,” he said.
The new fad in Durban is empowering the players to trust their natural instincts and to back their abilities. This is a commendable initiative if it works, but a disaster if it fails, and Dick Muir’s side have experienced a little of both this season.
Muir insists that his team doesn’t have a pre-determined gameplan going into matches and prefer to adapt to the match situation.
But his young side have often failed to adapt when required to do so, and in the face of a non-existent ‘Plan B’, resorted to the expansive game that cost them against Griquas, the Vodacom Cheetahs and the Lions.
Du Plessis though said that they will be far more focused in their approach.
“We [the pack] were solid in our scrums and lineouts last week, but our work after setting up first phase possession was poor.
“Against that Province loose-trio they will make you pay if a player gets isolated, so our plan is to play far tighter as a unit and everybody must do their job to perfection,” he said before sending out a not so subtle warning to their Cape visitors.
“Our pack is more than capable of dominating the game if we work smart.”
The Sharks are likely to make three changes to their starting lineup. Prop Kees Lensing is certain to miss the game with an injured back muscle and will be replaced by either Sangoni Mxoli or Robbie Harris. Prop Deon Carstens trained with the team this week and will most likely take a place on the reserve bench.
In the backline, 19-year-old Francois Steyn will replace JP Pietersen who has been called up to the Springbok squad, and centre Andries Strauss makes way for Grant Rees.
Sharks probable: 15. Francois Steyn 14. Odwa Ndungane 13. Waylon Murray 12. Grant Rees 11. Brent Russell 10. Bradley Barritt 9. Scott Mathie 8. AJ Venter 7. Jacques Botes 6. Warren Britz 5. Wouter Moore 4. Steven Sykes 3. Danie Saayman 2. Bismarck Du Plessis 1. Sangoni Mxoli/ Robbie Harris Reserves: 16. Skipper Badenhorst 17. Robbie Harris/ Deon Carstens 18. Keegan Daniel 19. Ryan Kankowski 20. Sandile Nxumalo 21. Gcobani Bobo 22. Andries Strauss
By Ryan Vrede