Sharks expect front to back attack

JP Pietersen says the Blues won’t be predictable, varying their play between forward surges and backline strikes.

The Blues were relatively conservative against the Stormers last week, adopting a largely forward-orientated approach and feeding off the hosts’ errors.

However, they did display the ability to play expansively when the match situation allowed, and this has the Sharks wary of their hosts.

“The Blues have a pretty complete team with a good pack and a great backline. They have some dangerous players like Joe Rokocoko and Jerome Kaino and they have players like Ali Williams coming back from injury which will be a big boost for them,” Pietersen told keo.co.za.

“It should be a similar game to the one against the Chiefs but a little bit more physical and they will definitely come at us from the start.”

Speaking about their narrow victory over the Chiefs last week, Pietersen said while the result was satisfying they know the Blues will punish them if they produced a repeat performance.

“It was definitely a big result for us and it’s always good to win your first game on tour because it gives everyone the belief that you need to do well over here. Playing any team in New Zealand is not easy. We got some lucky calls and we defended really well so it was a big relief at the end,” he said.

“We know that we need to improve against the Blues. They had a very good result last week against the Stormers and they beat the Force in Perth so they’ve picked up some valuable points on the road so they should have a lot of confidence and it’s their first home game of the season.

“But if we take our opportunities when they are presented to us we won’t find ourselves in the sort of position we were against the Chiefs.”

From a personal perspective 2009 has seen a return to try-scoring form for Pietersen, who failed to score a single try in the 2008 tournament. This after he finished 2007 as the tournament’s leading try scorer.

“It’s an awesome feeling to have scored one try – just to break the ice. I’m very pleased with the three tries I’ve got so far especially considering the dry spell I had last year,” he said.

“I’ve definitely adopted a different mindset compared to last year. I think I’ve also matured a lot. Last year I was still in that World Cup frame of mind and thought everything was just going to happen for me and it was quite a shock to my system.

“Your confidence will take a knock when you’re not scoring and you’re getting dropped from the team. Doubts start to set in and you begin to question your ability so it certainly was a wake up call for me.”

By Ryan Vrede